reVISIONing Textile, Craftsmanship, Wearables and Digital Fabrication [Roadtrip Series]

Diving into the world of textile and clothing shows we can’t transform an industry with one discipline, one master plan or one approach.

Amsterdam on a Saturday afternoon is full of many diversions, so taking advantage of this, we found ourselves exploring new, relevant ways of designing, making and producing textile and clothing.

Determined to be educated in the latest developments within the smart materials, space, we turned up at the reVISIONing textile exhibition. As soon as we walked through the door, we found ourselves in the company of Cecilia Raspanti and Ista Boszhard. Cecilia is a fashion/textile designer and digital fabrication expert. Experienced in fashion and textiles, she is researching and translating craftsmanship techniques and small production processes into digital fabrication innovative possibilities. Cecilia currently works as Concept developer and Designer at the FabLab and TextileLab Amsterdam, where she leads and organises workshops.

Cecilia Raspanti and Ista Boszhard

Ista’s background is in Fashion Design and Cultural Studies. Working as a concept developer at Waag Society, she questions how can we empower and connect people, explore possibilities, offer new / relevant perspectives and combine intuition and research?

Pioneering the future of the textile industry, Ista and Cecelia’s project received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 646133. The funding has allowed them to open doors to many concepts and possibilities. Their recently opened TextileLab Amsterdam operates with a foundation based on “openness, fairness, and curiosity”. Questioning the status quo, the TextileLab hopes to foster a combination of craftsmanship and digital fabrication by taking “different approaches”. They are doing this by launching a series of workshops taught by Cecilia, Ista and other educators. The series explores topics that include material manipulation; electronics and wearables, digital fabrication and 3D scanning and designing.

The talking sleeve by Marloeke van der Vlugt

During our visit, we took a moment to appreciate Colour Culture by Dagmar Grote and Caroline Bronkers. The Amsterdam based designers experimented with bacterial colourants, with the objective of coming up with a future alternative option to the widely used synthetic pigments, which currently cause damage to the world’s ecosystem. With a passion for innovation and sustainability the twosome believe that bacterial dyes are the answer to conventional dyeing methods. They hope that their research will open the (fashion) industry to new possibilities.

As we wandered around the beautiful building we came across Maartje Janse. She is a fashion designer looking to discover sustainable ways of dealing with materials and technology in the context of fashion.  Moving on we took a look at Kim Meijer exploration of the natural pigmentation on textiles. Her exhibit was all about creating a dye that isn’t harmful to the environment or the user. As we read about her work, we learnt that textiles made from 100% natural fibers (cotton or linen) often contain 27% of their weight in chemicals. On this Meijer shared, “This means that more than a quarter of the weight of our clothing might be purely chemical.” With a goal to reduce the textile industry’s chemical footprint, Meijer research shows that textile dyeing done using bacteria can produce the most beautiful pigments to rival the more toxic way of dyeing.

The project that caught my eye was by Marloeke van der Vlugt. The lecturer at the HKU University of the Arts in Utrecht, touches on the conversations around wearables in relation to makeability. Stimulating existing wearables, the sleeve represented an empowering device that allows the wearer to decide what shape it has, what data it will share or what message it conveys. Creating possibilities for garments, Marloeke continues to research the possibilities of ‘interactive spaces’ in which the audience can interact through sensory objects and electronic / smart textiles with themselves.

Before we left the exhibition, we took a moment to chat with Joris Lam. He is the man behind the dress for Siri. After exchanging pleasantries we dived straight into asking him questions about how he came up with his idea. He explained that, “millions of people talk to the same virtual woman every day, no one knows what she looks like, only how she sounds”. To Lam, it was all about uncovering Apples built in AI assistant Siri. He wanted to design a garment that he felt represented what Siri might wear. His research was conducted by asking Siri a series of questions. The questions he asked, helped him come up with a garment which he then showed in 3D visualization of Siri’s voice saying ‘Hi, I am Siri’.

FashNerd Founder Mano ten Napel and Joris Lam

From dyeing with bacteria, to designing for artificial intelligence, reVISIONing textile hopes to challenge the way you envision the textiles that are all around you. As we left the reVISIONing textile exhibition we found ourselves respecting the exhibitors propositions and mindsets when it comes to how we relate to fashion and textiles. So if you happen to be Amsterdam make sure you pop by reVISIONing textile exhibition powered by the Waag Society, it’s free.

reVISIONing textile exhibition: 27 January – 29 January 2017 from midday at Waag Society, Nieuwmarkt 4, Amsterdam

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The FashNerd team’s Roadtrip Series takes readers on a journey that explores the person behind the accomplishments. Be sure to catch up on previous articles.  

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Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.