weave thinking for smart textiles

kathryn walters

doctoral student, Swedish school of textiles, university of Borås


Weave thinking for smart textiles proposes a rethinkof smart textile design, by taking asystem-based approach, as in weaving, where all elementsare critical and integrated in theprocess of design and production. It proposes an alternativeto the current paradigm ofelectronics within smart textiles.Smart textiles are defined by transformability, reactingto targeted or environmental stimulus.They undergo state changes that may include transformationfrom 2D to 3D, as is the focusin this research. Three-dimensionality in woven textilestakes many forms, from low-reliefsurface effects to topological forms enclosing space.Texture, form, and structure are allinterrelated, built up from the construction of theweave; technical and aestheticconsiderations inextricably intertwined.This research explores the aesthetic and technicaloutcomes when using emergentbehaviour as a model for non-electronic smart textiles.Woven textiles are systems thebehaviour of which is dependent on the way their constituentelements – fibre, yarnconstruction, weave construction and finishing – interactand work together. By manipulatingspecific elements, the textile may become a complexsystem capable of exhibiting emergentbehaviour. The aim of the research is to develop newform-making strategies for woventextiles displaying complex behaviour.


Kathryn Walters is a PhD researcher in the field ofsmart textile design. Her work exploreswoven textiles as complex systems, capable of transformativeand reactive behaviour basedon the synergistic combination of their materialsand structure, while simultaneously seekingto investigate the potential three-dimensional morphologiesthat can arise and be derivedfrom flat-woven textiles. Her research aims to demonstratethe potential for emergentbehaviour as an alternative to electronic smart textiles.