June 12th 2013
CLOSE TO THE BODY, research around smart textiles, body and perception

Close to the body is a research study conducted between IAAC (Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia) the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and the Higher School of Design ESDi. The workshop takes place in the framework of the Master of Advanced Interaction imparting IAAC, a program that seeks to explore the creative uses of technology for practical and experimental.

Oscar Tomico (TU/e) and myself, we take care of the preparation and conduct of the workshop. Professor Tomico research focuses on the development of practices that allow a confrontation situadas1 constructive logic designer and social motivations and values (co-reflexión2). From ESDI bring knowledge in textile design and new materials. To carry out the workshop, we created a multidisciplinary group composed of IAACstudents and alumni and students of the Official Undergraduate Degree in Fashion Design of ESDi. In this way we covered the two areas of knowledge required: fashion and interaction.
Close to the body explores emerging space offers smart textile technology to investigate the dynamic relationships between the body, textiles and environment. Recognizes the textile as an intimate and central to our daily lives, completely interconnected with our identity and conscious and unconscious behavior. Shows sensitivity to embodied interaction, recognizes the importance of posture and movement, and appreciates the first-person perspective. An exercise that confronts the functionality to integrate the worlds of electronics, fashion design and manufacturing.

From this perspective, the objective of this research was to create a wearable, a garment that integrates technology and makes it portable. The word is an English term wearable computing itself that designates a type of technology small enough to carry it. To carry out this practice, the research study focused on three phases:

1. Explore the dynamic relationship between the body, textiles and context.
2. Develop interaction types that fit the body.
3. Bringing "smart textiles" the system of sustainable products and services (consumption and production) ready to implant in the market.

We plan the workshop in three weeks of work, one for each phase. In the first, exploratory, each student showed a specific movement he liked to practice in a natural environment. So we decided to put the context of IAAC Valldaura workshop, a research center located in the natural park of Collserola.
The intention was to start a movement of the body with which to start experimenting and create working groups, by association of movement. To do this, the designer-choreographer Sietske Klooster worked with students applying the choreography of interaction, a methodology developed by crossing herself contemporary dance experimentation with product design.
At the end of the first week, students began to realize these movements with felted wool, knitting tubular non-woven cotton and synthetic. Proposed such materials for their adaptability to the body, in the case of knitting, by providing structured forms the felt and the ability of the envelope and light non - woven. This allowed us to generate forms rigid or flexible, lighter or heavier and with different levels of transparency.

The second week was devoted to work on how technology could enhance the relationship that is created between the movement, the body, the fabric and the environment. The aim was to generate an interaction to extend the sensory impact of the garment in oneself and in others. Martijn ten Bhömer and Eva Deckers (TU / e) explained how to integrate technology in the textile organically, taking into account the dynamic relationship between the various elements.

In the last phase, we seek to bring the project to reality and time of use, sustainability criteria and feasibility necessary to implant in the market. Kristi Kuusk (TU / e) and Marina Toeters (By wire) explained what factors are involved in the life cycle of a garment and showed examples of systems of sustainable products and services. Students applied these criteria to their projects and defined, conceptually, how the project would be implemented in reality.

As a result, there were four interactive garments, very different from each other and that appeal directly to our senses:

Sound Embracers (Sara Gil, Cristina Real, Gerda Antanaityte, Gerard Rubio): A new instrument body movements associated with the direct generation of sounds. A neck maxi knitted elastic that integrates sensors and speakers to create an interface to create amazing soundscapes.

Open Up (Marina Pujadas, Moushira Elamrawy, Lucas de Sordi, Furqan Habib): A garment that creates a symbiotic interaction between the user and environment. Measures the displacement in space and gives the user a new sensation to the context. The inspiration for this project comes from the study of animal behavior and how they attract each other.

Illuminum (Anna Garcia, Mireia Playà, Nazaret): Dress Illuminum to experience a new way to excite the spectators. Illuminum intuitively reacts to light, surprising the audience in an elegant and delicate. A new philosophy of dance that evolves based on the dress that reacts in the absence of light.

Trailblazer (Rafael Vargas, Martin Lukac, Gemma Vila-Masana, Bert Balcaen): A service for running enthusiasts. Trailblazer offers the possibility of renting a garment that combines exercise with the idea of exploring your surroundings fascinating routes. The garment subtly encourages physical activity through a fabric that emits vibrations and guides you through scheduled routes in mobile.

The interest of this collaboration has been that students and ex - ESDI students work together with students of the Master of Advanced Interaction IAAC in order to offer a space for knowledge transfer between them. ESDI students have learned basic programming knowledge and interaction through the Arduino open source platform that allows you to create interactive electronic objects. Also to integrate that technology into a garment. Meanwhile, IAAC students have acquired knowledge about fashion design, how to model with tissue on the body and how to experiment with different materials and finishes.

For ESDI supposed to bond with TU / e, leader in design and interaction studies, and IAAC, Barcelona reference center regarding manufacturing processes through the Fab Lab possessing with latest machinery. Both mean for ESDI the possibility of agreements and promote the exchange of knowledge between students and / professors.

As our research in textile technology, Close to the body has given us additional methods work very interesting. The approach from practice and body awareness when designing a product radically changes the way we work and the results that they get. In this sense it has been a very positive learning process that leads us to reflect on our teaching and encourages us to explore and implement new methodologies.

Finally we would like to thank the companies and Freudenberg Olíus Textile collaboration to provide material for conducting this workshop. Also to thank both TU/e as IAAC and ESDI for making this workshop possible.

1 situated practices or "situated learning" is a concept proposed by Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger as a model of knowledge in a practical activity. In its simplest form, situated learning is that which takes place in the same context in which it is applied.

2 co-reflection process allows to obtain more reliable information on the relationship between designers and users, as well to guide it in different directions.

Marina Castán (12/06/2013)



Illuminum_Close to the Body workshop_IAAC_ESDi_TU/e_May 2013 from ESDi on Vimeo.

Open Up_Close to the Body workshop_IAAC_ESDi_TU/e_May 2013 from ESDi on Vimeo.

Sound Embracers_Close to the Body workshop_IAAC_ESDi_TU/e_May 2013 from ESDi on Vimeo.

Trailblazer_Close to the Body workshop_IAAC_ESDi_TU/e_May 2013 from ESDi on Vimeo.


Marina Castán