Designing with Smart Textiles

By Sarah Kettley

Smart Textiles is a new field of design and engineering emerging in relation to Technical Textiles, Wearable Technology and Smart Materials. In its most basic definition, a smart textile can exhibit repeatable behaviour in response to a stimulus such as strain or temperature change. Designing with Smart Textiles is the first book to provide both a theoretical and a practical introduction to this exciting new area of innovation in fashion design and to address the huge changes that smart textiles are having on the fashion industry. 

Designing with Smart Textiles debunks the new terminology being used around this subject, and asks readers to think about what ‘smart’ truly means. It introduces the different scales of enabling technology, and different scales of application; and explores the differences between smart textiles, wearable technology and technical textiles. It further explains the characteristics of different types of smart materials – passive, reactive and interactive textiles; and explores the relationships between skin, garments and architecture, as well as emergent areas of practice, contrasting the practice of studio textiles with approaches more often found in Product Design and Human-Computer Interaction.

Designed with studio use in mind, Designing with Smart Textiles leads students through the basics of creating simple circuits using conductive off-the-shelf yarns and fabrics, and provides information on electronic components; provides insights into creative material practices in print, knit, weave, embroidery and fabric manipulation; explores textile practices driven by interaction design, and the design of individual components; and offers readers valuable technical and processual insight into their work, and advice on how to build on this in their own textile practice, through reflexive documentation of their own experiments and creative work.

Designing with Smart Textiles is packed with smart features that encourage readers to reflect on their evolving design practice. Case studies with contemporary practitioners provide valuable insights into artistic and technological practice, and demonstrate how world-leading researchers are working with textiles to create new enabling technologies, yarns, fabrics, and applications; each practitioner also shares their unique ‘tech tips’ that readers can combine with their own research and design. Each chapter features a series of exercises that present encounters with creative tools for design management, practical exercises that build in complexity until readers learn when to use a microprocessor, and how to start working with the Arduino platform; and key questions, which help readers to build on what they have learnt and apply this to their own design practice.Designing with Smart Textiles provides a complete toolkit for the fashion-forward designer looking to understand – and be part of – this creative revolution in materials design.