The Role of Analogue, Textile User Interfaces in the Digital Age: An Investigation on the Impact of E-textiles in Society

By Barbro Scholz.

Published by The International Journal of Design in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: May 29, 2014 $US5.00

The recent increase in consumption of digital devices has attracted attention to the functions and uses of e-textiles as a marketable product. This article investigates the role of e-textiles within the broader framework of the digitization of everyday life. In general, I focus on the crucial role that textiles can play in our daily surrounding, and, more specifically, I elaborate on the relationship between textiles and digital devices. Drawing heavily on Foucault’s notion of modern society as a panopticon and Deleuze’s “postscript on societies of control,” I scrutinize the impact of the digital age on the construction of social relations and how this process influences human behavior. The outcome is questioning the hegemony of instrumental rationality, a discourse that tends to constrain human life by modeling it in a controlled and efficient way, and leaves no option for escape. By creating interactive, textile jewelry, inspired by the shape of insects, I try to spark a debate on surveillance systems in the economic sphere of social life. The textile sensors monitor the employee's movements and transfer this information to a system that allows the employer to monitor the employee's behavior en mood. Technically, the research focuses on textile sensors. Different materials were developed by functional tests and user observations. For the theoretical background, contemporary projects of the field of e-textiles and tangible user interfaces are analyzed and discussed.

Keywords: Design, Human Systems, E-textiles

The International Journal of Design in Society, Volume 7, Issue 3, May 2014, pp.51-62. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: May 29, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 447.884KB)).

Barbro Scholz

Freelance Designer, Stühmer|Scholz Design Office, Munich, Germany

Barbo Scholz is an artist and textile designer. She has her background in industrial design and textile design with a focus on electronic textiles and interaction. Her interest is in the impact of designed objects on society, especially textiles as user interfaces for technical devices or as the device itself. She thinks the change of possibilities in material choices and size for devices raise new questions to designers. She believes that life and behavior change and that the designer’s visionary role becomes even more important as well as the responsibility of designers to ask critical questions. Using the space where arts and design meets gives a chance to allow discussions apart from consumer objects.