Last week, I went to Stockholm for the Design Week. In between a gigantic amount of furnitures and lightings, I had the pleasure to meet some young designers working at the intersection of design, technology and fashion. Martin Bengtson and his “Coffee with Strangers”, Caroline Dalili with her Dalili Design brand and Malin Bobeck a beautiful Tech Fabrics designer.
Coffee with Strangers
Martin Bengtson created “Coffee with Strangers“ as a subject for human interaction, part of his Survival project at Gothenburg University. “Communication” later became the tool for curiosity to aid interaction between user and furniture. Furniture usually communicate through form, tactility, colors and signs. He wanted a new challenge in this project and after discussions and research, he found an adversary in using technology – enabling another type of communication in between the furniture and its user.
The LEDs lights are connected to a sensor made from aluminium foil. The sensor and LEDs are connected to a small micro-controller called Arduino (basically a simple, small computer). There are literally tons of DIY-projects using Arduino as the platform for controlling small robots. Martin wrote a lot of code for the micro-controller enabling it to react towards the user. The table reacts towards the voltage within our bodies, the aluminium foil works as a capacitive sensor, much like an iPhone with a touch screen reacts towards your body. Only a bit more analog perhaps. The trick when using wood is of course getting the light to “shine-through” without compromising the structural integrity of the tabletop, and getting the sensor to work without being seen.
When I discussed with Martin around his creation, one of my first question was how this can be used in fashion? Well, Martin told me Arduino is a platform to which you can connect many different ad-ons to; lights, microphones, speakers, different proximity sensors and such.
“I guess it’s a question of imagination and power (battery). I did a course with Paulina Nilsson, who created “Textil och ljud“, a sweatshirt featuring keys (like on a piano, ivories) on the left arm. When she pushed the different keys we could hear different tones, like on a real piano.” Martin said. “The possibilities are endless, the difficulty will regard power supply”.
Fashion is a big source of inspiration and with everything that is happening in the fashion world, Caroline Dalili wanted to bring some of that to interior design. Much like we are seeing big designer names doing in the fashion industry, she wanted to make her designs more exciting by bringing in color and contrast both in form, materials and technology. Making everyday objects into design pieces with unexpected functionality as well as beautiful design. Like in her series Holmes, where the hatstand doubles as a adjustable lamp to bring light into our small and cramped hallways.
“Whatever my inspiration, I always design with the end user in mind. Form and function are equally important for the overall experience and I believe we have achieved that in the collection we showed at the Stockholm Furniture Fair this year.” she told me.
Malin Bobek’s Lightening fabrics
Malin Bobeck started out studying industrial design but sewing her own clothes in her spare time, so she finally decided to go in that direction instead. Her family has a long tradition of people who have worked with textile crafts in different ways, so it was never far fetched that she would be working with textiles. She studied pattern making, textile history and crafts. Enjoying the whole process from sketch to finished product and she loves being a designer and being actually involved all the way through.
Binary Surface is a three dimensional fabric with two layers. By combining fiber optics and more traditional textile materials in a double weave, Malin created a voluminous fabric that is double-sided. The light is partially hidden in the pattern and sieved through the textile. It is designed to hang in the middle of a room without having a clear wrong or right side, as a hanging room divider. The light sources are integrated into a hem along one side of the fabric. The textiles are manufactured on demand and color scheme can be adapted for the purpose. They can also be ordered with colored light sources or programmable RGB LEDs which makes it easy to change the color of the light.
The starting point for Liquid Light project was to investigate weaving in relation to materials, texture and light. Gathering inspiration from the interaction between water and light and the phenomena that can occur when light hits a drop of water, Malin created a series of experimental textiles featuring Droplet and Flow. Droplet is a jacquard fabric with fiber optics in combination with shrinking yarn; Pemotex. It makes the fabric shrink when heated and that gives the fabric volume. Flow is a transparent fabric woven on a shaft loom. Optical fibers run along the fabric and form irregular points of light . By programming the light with an Arduino, the fiber optics sifts in different shades of blue and it creates the illusion of a movement in the fabric.