New behaviour, new experiences
“Are our bed sheets too dumb for the future?” This is how moderator Marcus Bergman opened the seminar. Marcus, who carries out research into textiles at Chalmers University of Technology, also conducted the packed event through the evening with great panache, adding needle sharp comments and insightful conclusions.
The first seminar speaker was Susanne Edström from Borås-based Smart Textiles. She painted a vivid picture of a highly probable future, where intelligent and interactive textiles will increasingly gain a place in our lives, embracing everything from our homes and personal gadgets, to health care, road building and technology.
The second seminar speaker, Gerrit-Willem Prins, from Phillips Lumalive, talked about “a new era in emotional textiles”, in which smart interactive textiles in the form of clothing, furniture and wallpaper, etc. would become the unifying link between technology and Man. According to Gerrit-Willem Prins, the smart textile industry is still in its infancy and can be compared with the way the mobile telephony industry was developed 10-15 years ago. And that even now it is already possible to predict the result of the work being done, i.e. the development of smart textiles will most likely influence our behaviour and facilitate completely new experiences, and thereby also influence business. And it could happen within just a few years.
Marcus Bergman summed up the session by pointing out the radical change in the way we see textiles and their application areas. And that the limitations for what can be done with textiles lies within our own capacity for thinking.
Textiles that save lives and build roads
Nanofibres for artificial blood vessels, textile-reinforced concrete (lighter and more durable), or temperature-regulating car upholstery. According to Susanne Edström of Smart Textiles, interactive textiles are the future, and their potential is virtually unlimited. And in the quest for future business ideas, it’s important to think outside the box. “Tomorrow’s consumers, such as my own teenage son, have grown up with the Internet, mobile phones and mp3 players, and they see technology as a natural feature of everyday life. The big sellers of the future might well be technical textile products, perhaps a ski glove with integrated microphone (linked to a mobile phone in the pocket), or a wall that changes colour and shape according to the sound level. In short, textiles will unite man and technology in a good way.”
Challenge: boundary-crossing collaboration
The Next Textile seminar was rounded off with a panel debate, featuring Susanne Edström, Gerrit-Willem Prins, industrial designer Hedvig af Ekenstam, and Mats Lundgren, owner and Managing Director of FOV Fabrics. Their joint conclusion was that complex products call for new ways of collaborating; without boundaries and open to finding synergies, thereby enabling us to benefit from each other’s competence.
Hedvig af Ekenstam emphasised the importance of new thinking – industrial design might just as well be about soft products made of textiles, such as Hedvig’s prototype vacuum cleaner for Electrolux. Mats Lundgren spoke of the challenge entailed in changing a traditional industry, particularly in view of the threat from the East. His best tip was to try to be patient, both money-wise and ideas-wise.
Finally, what can we see in our crystal ball? Which will be the best business ideas of 2020? Well, how about a soft car battery or an ultra thin computer screen? Both in textiles, of course!
Nordic Light Hotel, Stockholm, 12 August 2008
Developments in textiles are advancing with fierce intensity. Application areas stretch far beyond the traditional, trained more on spacewalks than the flashbulbs of the catwalk. Tomorrow’s textiles are intelligent, interactive and in all likelihood not developed in a western country near you. The BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China stand ready to move to sixth gear and, due to enormous financial resources and increasingly higher expertise in the field, can skip development phases with which the “old” world still struggles.
With Next Textile, FutureDesignDays takes aim at tomorrow’s textile innovations and the business-related consequences born of this high-speed pioneering spirit by hosting an event on August 12, 2008. On stage stand as usual the bold, the innovative and those crazy enough to challenge the norms. FutureDesignDays’ Next Textile is an afternoon and evening of seminars and panel debates housed at the Nordic Light Hotel in Stockholm. We’ll wind up the evening in the traditional manner with food, drinks and mingle. There are only a limited number of seats so be quick.
Seats are limited.
FutureDesignDays Next Textile:
Smart Textiles; Susanne Edström
Lumalive, Philips Technology Incubator; Gerrit-Willem Prins
Speaker as per above, plus:
Hedvig af Ekenstam, Industrial Designer
Mats Lundgren, Managing Director, F.O.V. Fabrics
What signifies a smart textile and how can we build a centre of excellence and an outstanding environment for creating the future of textiles?
- Undershirts with integrated textile sensors, stretch sensors in seatbelts, temperature regulating sportswear and textile produced blood vessels.
- Curtains heating up your house –after a warm sunny day.
- Climate control and energy saving screens, textile reinforcement in concrete, smart filters and sound absorbing textiles interacting with the surroundings.
These are just a few examples of what we will see in the future – these are the next generation of textile products. These are smart textiles.
Textile is in the frontline of design development and is creating new trends. There is a great and increasing demand for new textile products and the new generation has different demands on techniques and design.
Tomorrow the technique is self-evident and this applies on the textile materials as well as the textile processes. The development of the next generation of textiles leads to completely new functions due to closer cooperation and networking between researchers from different disciplines. When technicians and designers meet and interact throughout the entire process of development synergies result in new possibilities. With e.g. nanotechnology, phase change fibres, sensor technologies, we create unlimited new textile solutions and new products of tomorrow.
Smart Textiles is a new and prioritized research area in the Sjuhärad region. In Borås and Western Sweden we are coordinating and organizing a dynamic innovation system, Smart Textiles, in order to create an inclusive environment for the development of the next generation’s textile solutions. The core activities of Smart Textiles emerge from the Swedish School of Textiles located in the city of Borås. Smart Textiles is a collaboration between different parties; academic, social and industrial. Researchers and students from universities and colleges from all over the world work with different projects in collaboration with research institutes as well as with the industry in a wide range of different international and national networks. Combining the basic research with company/consumer driven research is the main theme in our work.
Lumalive, Philips Technology Incubator
Philips Lumalive is a new venture, founded 1st July 2007, which aims to bring a woven LED communication platform to market by engaging messages to consumers. Philips Lumalive has been in business with sales since December 2007 in the experiential event marketing branch. In the years to come they expect to cover a very wide range of B2B and Consumer applications. One of their new concepts relates to clothing for promotions and events, where LED technology has been integrated into the fabric. Gerrit-Willem Prins joined Philips in 1984 and has among many things launched Philips Mastercolour CDM in 1994 (now the standard in Retail Lighting). He was also based 4 years in Hong Kong to set up Philips Special Lighting sales force in Asia Pacific and to manage the Outdoor and Retail part of the lamp portfolio. Gerrit-Willem Prins is Commercial Director of Philips Lumalive since September 2007.
Andreas Friedrich and Pär Heyden
Senior Designers, Semcon Design
Semcon is a global technology development company with business at 40 sites on three continents. Semcon designs and develops products for some of the world’s most successful companies.
Senior Designer, Semcon Design
Andreas FreidrichAndreas is one of the founders of Caran Design in 1995 och has since then played an important role in the development of the company, which today is a part of Semcon.He has worked for 6 years at Volvo Design department, with projects like the launch and the interior design of Volvo C30, but also with the XC60 and the YCC design. Andreas is also an architect, as a free-time pursuit.
Senior Designer, Semcon Design
Pär HeydenFormer responsible for Interaction Design at Volvo Cars, with models like S40/V50/C30, ACC2, VCC and YCC, among others. Pär is now focussing on Strategic Design and the connection between brand and design. Today he is working as much outside as within the car industry.
Hedvig af Ekenstam
“The general view on textile as a material, is obsolete”, says Hedvig af Ekenstam who recently graduated from Konstfack (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design), Industrial Design. “During my years of studying at Konstfack in Stockholm, and abroad in Paris and Helsinki, I have developed an interest for materials and especially textile with all it´s functional and emotional strengths”, says Hedvig. She wants to work across borders and inspire designers to think both soft and hard product solutions.
Managing Director, FOV Fabrics AB
Mats Lundgren is the MD and owner of FOV Fabrics – the Innovator of High Tech fabrics. FOV’s goal and challenge is to create textile products with an intelligence that makes it possible to move into business growth areas.
Today FOV is developing fabrics that heats, lights and senses. End applications of the products can be in the energy sector, biotech or cleantech.
Marcus Bergman is a researcher at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, and a lecturer at the Swedish School of Textiles in Borås. His research deals with reform in the textile industry. By implementing artistic and poetic qualities into the field of design critique, Bergman seeks new ways of approaching textile objects. In this, ethical qualities can be dealt with in a more sophisticated manner; something that the textile industry is in dire need of.