This event kicked off eTextile Spring Break, a weeklong residency for many of the panelists being held at the Wassaic Project in upstate New York.
ETextile Spring Break will also close with a public event eTextile Spring Break Social. Join us again in Wassaic, on Saturday, April 7, for an afternoon of eTextile talks and an exhibition of work created during the week.
The turn out was great and the discussion lively. The event was split into two discussions crafted and moderated by Liza Stark. The groups and themes were as follows:
Panel 1: eTextiles in the Wild
Panel 2: Community Threads
Sasha de Koninck
The panels started with definitions, Liza asked each panelist to speak to the definition of e-textiles and wearable technology as they see it. Later questions probed the possibilities of e-textiles as well as the wicked problems that come along with the e-textile practice and wearable electronics in general. The first group discussed what was most exciting to them about the current state of the field hinting at the fast-paced market bound stream this field is being swept in and advancements in technology. All panelists had their own insights that ended in the agreement that the interdisciplinary nature of e-textiles was an exciting outcome of the field. For example in an e-textile workspace, you find electrical engineers working with textile designers and interaction designers working closely with fashion designers. Each profession needing to know the language the other.
The useful and uselessness of e-textiles were also brought up. Pointing out the challenge of designing something worn on the body that is adapted by the wearer, pointing to the importance of being flexible with your expectations while observing a wearer interacting with an e-textile you designed.
The second group dove into topics on community and narratives surrounding e-textile work and the practice as a whole. Open sourced work and online skill sharing was highlighted, both contributing to the panelist’s breadth of acquired knowledge and being a focus on their own work. The point of how difficult finding an e-textile community was also made making the existence of the attending event seem even more relevant at the moment.
Sustainability and ethical practices are always prevalent in the field of consumer electronics and fashion and e-textiles is no exception. Each panelist spoke on the sustainability of the practice itself and how it may or may not thrive as a viable solution for people. In short, asking the question – What kind of e-textiles do people want to wear?
The environmental and social aspect of sustainability was not lost either, the fact that two large industries: consumer electronics and fashion/textiles are merging make building a solid foundation practice of sustainable and ethical practices even more essential. It’s important to point out that e-textiles as a product were not the main focus of the discussion either, the panelists all spoke to the downfalls of mass marketing and the not always applicable notion of scaling up. Design for repair, thinking of communities as tribes, and the importance of e-textiles as an artistic medium was spoken about and held throughout.