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Research Program

Research Program

A fundamental challenge in design research today is to define design programmes that suggest methods for turning current scientific knowledge and technical development into the design of new forms of living that will provide the foundations for a more sustainable way of life.

The ArcInTex European Training Network (ETN) aims to strengthen the foundations of design for new forms of more sustainable ways of living by connecting architecture, textiles and interaction design in a training network for early-stage researchers (ESRs).

As natural science and engineering science introduce new materials and new technology, there is an increasing need to explore their possibilities and consequences for the design of our future living environments. Ways of living are intrinsic to both architecture and textiles as areas of design; from near-field clothing design, fashion design, and furnishing to far-field interior design and architectural design, from dressing us and our bodies to situating us in a living space: how to relate the near-field and far-field perspectives of design expression is a central issue as we try to use technological innovations to improve our ways of living.
Applying technical innovations in order to improve our ways of living is a matter of design. Explorations of possibilities and consequences with respect to the application of new technology require experimental design research. As this is not an area of research initially open for empirical studies, however, we will first need to explore possibilities and reflect on consequences by designing.
Applications of technology address the ways in which we design, both from a far-field perspective (architecture) and a near-field perspective (textile and wearables/fashion design), but also very much the ways in which we relate these perspectives; the interfaces we build and the communication systems and devices we construct (interaction design). Deepening the connections between textile and fashion design, architectural design, and interaction design will open up for the establishment of a new, reflective foundation on which to base the design for living in an age of technological innovations.

Textile and fashion design is by tradition near-field design and can, in a broad sense, be seen as one of the links connecting ways of living with spaces of living; textile thinking provides the foundations for ways in which we dress ourselves and our living environment, from near-field perspectives to far-field perspectives. Architecture, on the other hand, can be seen as one of the links connecting spaces for living with ways of living; architectural thinking provides the foundations for ways in which we define our living environment, from far-field perspectives to near-field perspectives.In forming our ways of living, textile and fashion design and architectural design move in opposite directions, so to speak, which opens up for intrinsic interactions with respect to scales of designing. Interaction design, as a mediating foundation, will put explicit focus on time (and timing) as a central variable.

The ArcInTex ETN propose training of early-stage researchers in an existing cross-disciplinary research network (ArcInTex, with the main aim to develop new programmes, methods and techniques for the design of adaptive and responsive environments connecting the scales of the body, the interior and the building. Through this cross-disciplinary and cross-national network, the consortium will build and train a new research community to take on challenges in innovative practice-based design research combining areas of design in which Europe by tradition has a very strong position.

Training within the ETN will focus on textile thinking as a programmatic and methodological foundation. By “textile thinking”, we refer to the ways in which textiles are understood within the field of textile design (which all along proceeds from textile material design, via textile product design, to fashion and textile interior design) as being adaptable and responsive. The ESRs in the network programme will after their initial training belong to a new generation of interdisciplinary trained and high-level educated architects, textile and fashion designers, and interaction designers, who build their work practice on new ideas of material thinking and design thinking with an emphasis on sensitive design expressions for reflective living:

– to explore modern technology through textiles – from body to space,
– to build with performative materials – from space to body.

Design for sustainability is a vast subject covering a wide range of variables from almost all areas of design: materials, construction and production processes, use, waste, etc. Consequently, the range of different research perspectives on the issue of sustainable design is also very wide. The issue of sustainability is also a thematic foundation for research at universities in general. What makes the network in this application fairly unique is the combination of a very broad cross-disciplinary approach with a methodological focus on experimental design research, an area where Europe has a particularly strong position in comparison to other regions of the world.

A central working axiom in this area of research is that design for future forms of sustainable living entails fundamental changes in ways of living and also requires radical changes in design thinking. The primary challenge for practice-based design research is to experimentally explore the nature of these changes. Such research includes everything from materials experimentation to forming scenarios in a sort of archaeology of the future. For the research training in this proposal, we formulate the working axiom in a slightly more precise manner by saying that these changes go in the direction of more reflective ways of living. Turning scientific knowledge and technical development into design for new forms of living may focus on the functional solutions of given problems, but could also focus on expressional possibilities that open up for ways of living a reflective everyday life. It is this focus on expressional possibilities that is the main research theme underlying this proposal.

Connecting architecture, textile and fashion design, and interaction design through explorations into the expressional possibilities of modern technology for dressing, furnishing, and building ways of leading more reflective everyday lives in the future the overall aim of the ETN is to:

– introduce new design programmes,

– introduce and display new design techniques and methods,

– introduce and display new perspectives on design aesthetics.