Form Active Textile Structures


I am happy to announce that Form Active Textile Structures:  A Research Process  by Felecia Davis and Delia Dumitrescu will be released by School of Architecture and Planning Press in early November 2013.  The catalogue comes in a set of 5 and will be available from the School of Architecture and Planning for $24.99.  The catalogue contains two essays and details from the Patterning by Heat:  Responsive Tension Structures Exhibition that was shown in the Keller Gallery Fall 2012.

JPEG image[2]_smallclosing fabric_shrinking yarn_early test

In addition to details about the Keller exhibition we also included work and discussion from the Digital Translations:  3D Printed Textiles Workshop held at the Swedish School of Textiles in Boras Sweden Spring 2012.


We are psyched!  Coming Soon!  Look for it!

Made possible with a little help from our friends @ the MIT School of Architecture and Planning.  So a shout out to  Nader Tehrani;  Irene Hwang and Lizzie Yarina  for help with layout and editing as well as Sarah Hirschman for help with getting the original exhibition installed.  Thanks Guys!

Slow Technology & Maggie Orth’s Message


26 April, Cambridge, MA_Maggie Orth  artist and technologist, of International Fashion Machines and  MIT Media Lab PhD spoke at the MIT  Design and Computation Group Lecture series today.  She showed many of her double woven, color changing textiles in photograph and video  to show both texture of the textile and video to show the temporality of the textile pieces.  This video snagged from’ Youtube shows her piece titled 100 Electronic Art Years from 2010.    It is shown in time lapse.  The piece is made of cotton, rayon and conductive yarns as well as silver ink and hand printed thermochromic inks.  More information can be found on her website here

If you have ever traced a shadow line across the floor wall or other surface as the sun traveled its path over a day you can get a sense of the speed of the color change.  The change is at first imperceptible but as you start to look the change is so minute but so fast you do not even know that it has changed.  In the case of the shadow, the edge has already moved from your pencil position as you start.  This is similar to the effect experienced in Turrell’s work Skyspace in Houston link here: .  The speed of Orth’s color changing woven textiles, take a person back to a slower more modulated time. Lars Hallnas and Johannes Redstrom write about this type of reflective temporality in the article ‘Slow technology:  designing for reflection’ the reference link is here:

Embedded in this temporality of natural things  is a question about how things return to the earth.  How should designers and artists account for a recycling of composite materials, microchips and other toxins that cannot be recycled?  What are the ways in which designers and artitsts can  invent ways that these new materials can be re-purposed, remade, recycled?

Electronic Weaving: Textiles and Mind

Charlieplexed Textile Map

Charlieplexed Map

How many things hold what we remember?

The theme of this year’s Sigradi 2011 held in Santa Fe Argentina 18-20 November chaired by Mauro Chiarella and Maria Elena Tosello , looked at the question of Augmented Culture and the intertwining of digital and physical space that create a new fabric of life, and perhaps a new  concept of mind that determines how  people interact today.

As a way to understand the idea of a mind, which was proposed by Marvin Minsky in his book the Society of Mind, the Sensing Touch:  Soft Architecture project presented at Sigradi, is a prototype for a conductive knit curtain that sensed nearness or absolute touch on the curtain and output the distance in various patterns of led’s on the curtain panel.  The panel also had soft solar film strips that captured energy to help power the output.  The paper is posted at Sigradi or CuminCad.   In this project,  mind, is expanded as it were to the textile itself creating a feedback loop between it and a person’s skin.

Here is a video of the Sensing Touch Curtain:

Sensing Touch Curtain Open from fadstudio on Vimeo.

A second paper Telephoning Textiles:  Networked Soft Architectures was also presented and looked at how a textile could become an indexing agent.   A textile map of all 50 states in the U.S. indicated by a led, was lit up according to the area code of the cellphone that was calling it.  An electronic weaving technique was used to expand the register pins of the microprocessor, in this case a Lilypad 328 from Sparkfun.  This made it possible to light up all 50 led’s one for each state in the U.S. using the 14 pins available on the Lilypad.  This paper is also available through the Sigradi or CuminCad website. Below is an image from the Telephoning Textiles: Networked Soft Architectures paper.

Textile Map Accessed by Android

Some of the most interesting issues that came up in the discussion during the Sensing Touch Curtain presentation were making it possible for other people to plug into or connect to the sensing touch curtain project, that it could not only be a understood as a curtain but seen as a mobile patchwork quilt that allowed connection with others, and that different events could be sparked off the interaction.  A kind of Interactive Gees Bend quilt that changes the look of technology and how it is accessed.  Here is a link a website showing the quilts., but it may be best to just google images for the quilts to see the remarkable panoply of designs together.

UpcomingForm Active Structures Workshop for the Industrial Knitting Course at the Swedish School of Textiles in Boras Sweden  between 6-10 March.

I will also present a lecture titled  Soft Architectures  at the Design Seminar Series on  6th  March.  More information at the link.

More on this later…

Textile Logics: Designing Structural Membranes

August 22-24 , 2011 the last and final workshop of the Digital Crafting Workshops series was held at the Design School in Kolding Denmark.   Workshop 5, titled  Textile Logics:  How to Brace,  was run by Mette Ramsgard Thompsen Head of CITA in Copenhaen, with invited guest Sean Alquist from the Institute for Computational Design at the University of  Stuttgart.The workshop focussed on the relationship between digital tools and the fabrication of variegated textile tension structures.  Textile designers Vibeke Riisberg , textile engineer Joy Boutrup, and textile manufacturing technical designer Helene Jensen  from the Design School at Kolding helped guide 3 teams of architects, engineers, artists and designers in creating three versions of tension structures from different types of variegated textiles.On Day 1, Teams designed the external shape of the tension structures as well as the textile itself  on laptops.    Vibeke and Helene worked with teams to produce  knitting samples and tested techniques.  The picture above is the the external shape and textile my team designed, in this image it is fully tensioned.  In this case the textile acts like a net.  Stresses are moving primarily through the thicker parts of the textile.On Day 2 teams began to process their textile patterns for the knitting machine.  The picture below shows the fabric our team designed directly from the industral knitting machine.  You can see that the fabric has a lot of bubbles that do not carry so much stress.


The workshop provided a unique opportunity to fabricate using tools from the textile and commercial apparel industry. Here are some pictures of the tools used to fabricate our tension structure.  The sewing machine below, sewed the loose ends of the knit together with a polyester and nylon thread, and sliced off the leftover part of the seam as you stitched.   Very fast,  scary at first.

Sewing on an Edger Machine

In the picture below is the industrial knitting machine that made our textile, which was a double knit structure.  The machine was started with plain wool to get it going and then the yarn was changed to the polyester yarn.

flat Knitting Machine

Day 3 was a seminar day, where there were invited guests, and teams discussed what was learned during the entire process  that moved from digital information to the fabricated tension structure.  You can read more about the Digital Crafting 5 Workshop here:

Cloth Emerging from Knitting Machine