Throughout the lab, we will examine and reflect on the futuristic vision that all design artefacts will be ’smart’, will ‘think’, and will ‘communicate’ with one another. How will this enrich or change our lives? How much technology do we want in our physical world? How much embedded electronics can we digest before facing the environmental consequences?

The workshops will explore electronics as a medium, looking at the integration of electronics and new materials into traditional craft practices and design artefacts. Participants will experiment with materials that can enable simple expressive computational forms, with a particular (but not exclusive) emphasis on textiles.

Programme Details


A series of lectures will explore previous works and present a theoretical and historical overview of relevant thematic areas including:

  • physical interaction design
  • physical computing,
  • ubiquitous computing,
  • tangible media,
  • wearable computing,
  • technical textile history,
  • electronic textiles,
  • embedded electronics,
  • sensor integration,
  • responsive environments, and
  • design research concepts.

Workshop Sessions

We will look at alternative materials that enable the construction of soft circuits to design and build simple interactive or ’smart’ artefacts. All participants will learn some basics of electronics, physical interaction design, and electronic textile construction. They will be introduced to new and old materials and processes for embedding conductive components into textile substrates.

The working sessions will include:

  • Basic electronics and building simple circuits on breadboards
  • Basic microcontroller programming and working with various sensors and actuators
  • Screen based programming in c++, java or a sketch-program tool like Processing
  • Garment design and basic pattern drafting
  • Basic textile construction techniques, such as weaving, stitching, embroidery, and knitting
  • Jacquard weaving and software for complex woven structures
  • Alternative ways of thinking about electronics: eg, what happens when a circuit becomes ’soft’, when we use conductive thread instead of a breadboard or PCB,
  • Basic electronic textiles: sewing a prototype of electronic textile soft switch and exploring other conductive materials
  • Overview of different conductive threads and textiles, their history and construction methods
  • ‘Soft’ electronics: different conductive threads, inks, and integration techniques. How to connect ‘hard’ to ’soft’, how to use traditional textile construction techniques such as beading or appliqué to construct our ’soft’ circuits
  • Wearable technologies and hands-on techniques with LEDs, conductive embroidery or textiles, electroluminescent ink printing
  • Working methods and processes derived from sound, video, sensor activation, database design, projection, jewellery making and metal work practices
  • Producing a working prototype in consultation with facilitators

Discussion Sessions

Over the course of the lab we will address conceptual concerns such as:

  • building complex interaction scenarios,
  • addressing culturally-specific and context-specific thematic areas, sustainability and ecology, and
  • culturally appropriate integration of new technologies into traditional craft and design practices, methods, and aesthetic forms.

Discussions topics will include:

  • A survey of research in this field, with an emphasis on a critical approach within a social/cultural/political context
  • Influential artists and artworks such as Louise Bourgeois, Annette Messager, Cremaster, with emphasis on thinking of the body and associated political/ethical issues such as gender, reshaping the body, desire, etc
  • Brainstorming, ideation, and concept building for embedding technology into design/art projects
  • Developing cross-disciplinary design methodologies
  • Developing a strong concept
  • Forming cross-disciplinary teams

Please note this is a draft programme and is currently being finalised with workshop facilitators.