Layered Approaches - Woven eTextile Explorations Through Applied Textile Thinking

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
Degree programme
128 + app. 192
Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL THESES, 80/2023
Woven structures form the most common type of textile in our everyday life. Their potential for eTextile development, ranging from component integration to entirely woven user interfaces, has invited researchers from various fields to explore how weaving can expand the interactive capabilities of textile surfaces around us. However, eTextile literature typically considers weaving as a method of constructing, and rarely acknowledges the reflective nature of weaving, and the insights related to thinking associated with textile design practices, that is, textile thinking, are often sparingly described. The overarching research question in this thesis is how can weaving be used to explore new concepts and design opportunities for eTextiles, and it is examined through five academic publications. The exploration of textile thinking was carried out through a practice-based design research approach on technical woven eTextile development. The primary methods for data collection were the woven textile design practices and semi-structured interviews, complemented by reviewing grey and academic literature related to woven eTextiles. The first study investigated how the orthogonal yarn architecture of woven structures enables the integration of electrical circuitry. The second study examined how electrically functional structures and sensorial properties of a textile surface can be designed in parallel to form a user interface for an interactive textile object through a case of an interactive hand puppet. The third study included an exploratory weaving process to map the possibilities of multi-layer weaves for woven eTextile development through accumulative design experimentation. The fourth study reviewed eTextile literature through the lens of woven textile design to understand how weaving has been used in eTextile research across different disciplines. The review identified woven structures whose potential for eTextile development has remained uncharted. The fifth study examined the role of weaving within an interdisciplinary eTextile material development process by focusing on the experiences of the researchers working on a project developing yarn-like actuators for shape-changing interactive textiles. The practice-based approach grounded on textile thinking was found to be well-suited for mapping the design space of woven eTextiles to discover new research opportunities. The approach enables accessing methods based on textile design and construction skills and conducting the investigation through the possibilities of weaving. As a core contribution, this thesis proposes a model for approaching woven eTextiles as electrically functional material systems, in which woven textiles' structural hierarchy collides with circuit design principles.
Supervising professor
Niinimäki, Kirsi, Assoc. Prof., Aalto University, Department of Design, Finland; Xiao, Yu, Assoc. Prof., Aalto University, Department of Communications and Networking, Finland
Thesis advisor
Mikkonen, Jussi, Assoc. Prof., Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
textile thinking, eTextiles, weaving, multi-layer weaves
Other note
  • [Publication 1]: Mikkonen, J., & Pouta, E. (2016). Flexible Wire-Component for Weaving Electronic Textiles. 2016 IEEE 66th Electronic Components and Technology Conference (ECTC), 1656–1663.
    DOI: 10.1109/ECTC.2016.180 View at publisher
  • [Publication 2]: Pouta, E., & Mikkonen, J. (2019). Hand Puppet As Means for eTextile Synthesis. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Tangible, Embedded, and Embodied Interaction, 415–421.
    Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
    DOI: 10.1145/3294109.3300987 View at publisher
  • [Publication 3]: Pouta, E., Mikkonen, J., & Salovaara, A. Opportunities of Multi-Layer Double Weave and Double Cloth Structures in Woven eTextile Design. Submitted for review to ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction
  • [Publication 4]: Pouta, E., & Mikkonen, J. V. (2022). Woven eTextiles in HCI — a Literature Review. Designing Interactive Systems Conference, 1099–1118.
    Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
    DOI: 10.1145/3532106.3533566 View at publisher
  • [Publication 5]: Pouta, E., Vidgren, R., Vapaavuori, J., and Mohan, M. (2022) Intertwining material science and textile thinking: Aspects of contrast and collaboration, in Lockton, D., Lenzi, S., Hekkert, P., Oak, A., Sádaba, J., Lloyd, P. (eds.), DRS2022: Bilbao, 25 June - 3 July, Bilbao, Spain.
    Full text in Acris/Aaltodoc:
    DOI: 10.21606/drs.2022.525 View at publisher