Recently I was asked about the integration of electronics into carpets and textiles and what my ideas are to bring this inevitable merger together.
That got me thinking… Is it inevitable?
“Should we be designing smart textiles or should we be designing textiles smarter?”
Yes the Internet of things sees us all being ever more connected, phones are now wearable, your shoes can now talk to your smartphone. There will certainly be a continuation of miniaturisation, automation and personalisation that will make our digital lives seamless. But does it necessarily follow that everything will become smart?
Perhaps the true value of soft furnishings is comfort and style and a release from all things technological?
Anthropology cannot be separated from your future trend mapping. We have to plan textiles that will enrich people’s lives. Textiles need to respond to basic human needs before they can change the TV channel, and lets not forget that good health is a human need. Do we really want to plan a society that is full of lazy, gadget-dependent couch potatoes?
Textiles need to be pure, recyclable, ethically produced and beautiful. Once we master that we can soften the digital world by wrapping it in our woolly luxury.
I’m all for better homes and workplaces and better technology. Safety is a brilliant place to innovate new textiles that will monitor people and their habitats. Ultimately textiles are about comfort; from bearskins in our caves to sheepskin rugs by our curved screen TV’s.
Yes there is a trend to digitise life, but its one trend that responds to a sub-set of human needs. There are many trends that ignore digitisation. I’m not saying we shouldn’t develop smarter fabrics, I’m just saying we should always ask why.
The favourite chair in my house is in a room with no TV. The furnishings in this space are about escape, switching off, comfort and colour. Its a space for real human interaction.
Perhaps the smart way to design textiles is to keep them dumb?