Making woven e-textile sensors for Polyphonic Playground, with Fashion Space Gallery and Studio PSK

Polyphonic Playground in Ventura Lambrate, Milan, Italy. Photo credit: Carlos Jiménez

Weft Lab was approached by Fashion SpaceGallery (London College of Fashion) for some e-textile work of the second iteration of a commissioned project with Studio PSK, titled the ‘Polyphonic Playground’. This project was a site specific interactive music/ sound installation, to enable adults to rediscover the experience of play, similar to the memories evoked from the joy of childhood playground activities. The project enabled a collaboration between design, music and textiles for an immersive interactive experience. 

The Polyphonic Playground was first debuted in Assemble Miami 2014, and was a huge success. The second iteration of the project was for Ventura Lambrate, Milan in April 2015, where this version was adapted with integrated woven e-textiles made by Weft Lab (Dr Priti Veja). Working closely with Studio PSK and Fashion Space Gallery, two integrated hand woven e-textile sensors were developed. The sensors were positioned onto the outer side panels of the interactive swings, enabling musical outputs when activated by participants touching the sensor. 

The project is making a third appearance during the London Design Festival 2015, 23rd -27th September, at LCF Mare Street with a series of LAB events – more information can be found here.

Woven e-textile sensor being woven on the automated hand loom

The process of making the woven e-textile sensors were mapped to specific designs agreed with Studio PSK and Fashion Space Gallery. The process involved developing a specific warp design to enable interwoven connections of conductive yarns during the woven process. 

Integrated woven electronic textiles (e-textiles) research via design led processes

Woven electronic textile by Priti Veja © 2015
Weft Lab is an outcome of a PhD research project by Dr Priti Veja, developed at Brunel University London, College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences (EPSRC supported). The research was published in March 2015, with thesis title “An investigation of integrated woven electronic textiles (e-textiles) via design led processes”.

The research focused on woven e-textiles through design led and empirical investigations, combining electronics into constructed woven structures. Priti’s research applied woven methods to make integrated soft circuits, using her expert woven knowledge and design led processes. Her research demonstrated design considered e-textile outcomes through woven structural manipulations and design led methods to amalgamate weaving and electronics as a simultaneous process. The work investigated e-textiles materials for soft product application, (e.g. wearable technology, smart textiles) and opportunities for e-textile manufacture. The research also examined the design process and creative methods applied during the stages of textile design development.

The thesis is available via open access by directly downloading from BURA (Brunel University ResearchArchive), or via the British Library’s EThOs (E-Theses Online services).

Woven electronic textile by Priti Veja © 2015

Woven electronic textile by Priti Veja © 2015


Return of Weft Lab...

Weft Lab has been silent for a while, but it has been quietly working away on completing research work, attending and speaking at seminars and conferences, preparing collaborative projects and workshops for some exciting future work. Stay tuned to hear more about recent activities.

Wearable Technology Conference meets Gadget Show

The first Wearable Technology Conference and Expo 2014, a two day event hosted in London, Olympia, saw an international WT community exhibit, demonstrate and discuss themes of  WT and beyond. The conference was packed with speakers from a global platform of WT companies, computing, communications, start ups and research. Concurrent to the conference was the WT expo; a great opportunity to see and experience tangible WT products and discuss specifics with the experts. It would be great to see this part of the show expand to help disseminate and engage with the types of WT products being developed and expose potential market opportunities.

Although the divide between hard 'portable' WT and softer textiles and clothing WT still exists, the future seems promising to integrate the two areas for ultimate WT products. Examples of two possible WT development were demonstrated at the expo by Jason Bradbury and Rachel Riley from the Gadget Show. The first product, demonstrated by Jason, was a wearable seat (worn like a belt) and on activation would unravel as a pole to sit on. The other product, demonstrated by Rachel, was a pair of energy harvesting trousers. Despite the need for further design improvements of the wearable seat, conceptually this proved to be effective and certainly integrated innovative textile technology for a flexible material to bare the weight of a person. Rachel's energy harvesting trousers were the better designed product of the two.

It will be good to see the conference and expo expand at future iterations of this event, such as the Wearable Tech Summit focusing on sports and fitness, and London will see the return of the Wearable tech Show next March 2015.  

Wearable Futures: 2013

The first Wearable Futures conference in this (possible) series, fully dedicated to wearable technology, innovation and future concepts was recently held at Ravensbourne, London. The event bought together some of the most influential persons in this field, conceptual thinkers and innovative wearable tech makers, for two full days of exposure, discussion and debate. What seemed to be interesting was the mix of interdisciplinary professions all immersed in this one related field of ‘wearable futures’ – highlighting the importance of collaborative works and the need to share and push knowledge beyond single discipline platforms. This was a point raised in a few of the discussions, emphasising the potential of wearable technologies if more collaborative practices were initiated, committed to and continued to advance. Some of these practices that proved to thrive from such interdisciplinary working relationships showcased some exciting works.

The skill of making alongside technology was another point that reiterated amongst discussions, particularly with ‘softer’ wearables. To truly integrated technology and digital capabilities into garments or soft goods, an essential understanding of making and construction can only enhance this prospect. Hearing of innovative projects raised much interest such as the digital bandages, tracking shoes, making on the spot garment patterns and growing textiles to name a few.

A whole host of other projects were also displayed and discussed, including two physical exhibits of wearable tech products and concepts. Weft Lab also presented in the research stream, focusing on academic research of woven e-textiles.
One of the highlights remains the opening presentations by Clara Gaggero, David Ban and James Birdle; session titled ‘Wearable Past, Present and Future’, encapsulating the essence of the conference and can be seen here. A huge well done to the conference organisers – an excellent inaugural event.

The Future IS Here: Design Museum

A recent visit to the Design Museum's current exhibition 'The Future Is Here' focuses on design, new materials and manufacturing technologies; highlighting some of the most recent and exciting innovations in what some are claiming to be a new industrial revolution. Entering the exhibit introduces a historical context of past industrial manufacturing right up to the present day. Alongside this runs a live modern making factory displaying some of the most up to date and innovative making processes, with shelves of example artifacts produced on display for visitor interaction. 3D-printing, laser cutting/ etching and CAD modelling were a few active processes drawing in an engaged audience in awe.

Amongst the main display of products were 3D-printed implantable skull plates, robotic manufacturing, hackable products, open source platforms, computing hardware and material processes to name a few. What was most exciting for Weft Lab to view was Philippa Brock's jacquard woven fabrics, using on loom finishing techniques to produce 3D textiles. Combining traditional textile manufacturing with technologically advanced capabilities demonstrates the potential of this relationship for new possibilities. Textiles are one of the oldest forms of material production and the exhibition re-confirms its constant position as a novel making method alongside new evolving practicies. The possibilities of combining design, making, technology and manufacturing is proving to push boundaries and open new exploratory levels of design.


RSA RDI Summer School 2013

Part of Weft Lab was extremely pleased to have been selected for this years RSA RDI summer school, held at Dartington Hall, Devon. A truly unique and inspiring four days with an incredible group of creative individuals, including Royal Designers for Industry, young designers and a handful of 'wildcard' participants. An experience that provoked and unravelled new depths of creative thinking with dynamic analytical perspectives. Undoubtedly, an experience that will always impact our work going forward. To read more about this event, here is a great write up by Melanie Andrews from the RSA. Many thanks to the RSA for this opportunity.