Ways of knowing and making: searching for an optimal integration of hand and machine in the textile design process

2013-08-16T13:46:57Z (GMT) by Rachel Philpott
Textile design methodologies are evolving to embrace opportunities for innovation given by technological developments in both process and materials. Transfer of CAD/ CAM technologies from disciplines such as architecture and engineering is contributing to the dissolution of boundaries between textile and non-textile, leading to the design of exciting new products. In this changing landscape the textile designer becomes more than creator of functional, commercial products; the application of art & design perspectives and methods to technological development can expand the discourse beyond purely functional parameters, suggesting alternative futures where beauty, utility and intuition all play a role. Our knowledge of textiles is largely mediated by touch. Much textile design practice is still carried out intuitively, informed by tacit knowledge gained through tactile, sensual exploration of materials. This paper investigates ways in which the benefits of CAD/CAM technologies can be realised whilst retaining playful, intuitive exploration that can humanize disembodied digital processes and outcomes. A case study illustrates how hand and machine processes were interwoven to create textiles with inherent structural properties. Aesthetic, yet not purely decorative, predetermined folds transform 2-D surface into 3-D form, creating adaptable structures with potential application across various disciplines in wide-ranging scales and materials.