Interactive pillow
IT + Textiles

IT+Textiles experiments with the design possibilities as computation and textiles converge in new forms. As technology is increasingly integrated in everyday life, research attention has tended to focus on the new technical functions. Design materials, such as textiles, are often seen as ways to decorate or ‘soften’ high-tech. And, while textiles are ubiquitous in everyday life and one of our oldest design traditions, technology is often only incorporated superficially.

The IT+Textiles design research program was guided by the theme ‘technology as design material’, which oriented practice-based research into the complex interplay between temporal and spatial gestalt made possible as information technology and textiles converge. The program investigates the need for aesthetics of, and design methods for, the use of new textiles and computational technology as design materials. IT + Textiles mixed researchers from textile and interaction design, textile and electrical engineering, philosophy and the behavioural sciences to find new approaches to issues of use and context and form and aesthetics, as well as reflecting on people's relations to everyday objects and technology. The research is not about merely creating 'smart textiles' or exploring new technical possibilities, but about how to re-think the use of textiles and computational technology as design materials considering the different traditions, perspectives and methods.

Experimental design methods were a starting point to explore the potentials of technology as a design material. This approach lead to the creation of a repertoire of design examples that illustrate what can be done within this area, including: the Interactive Pillows, Reach, Tic-Tac-Textiles, the Information Deliverer, Sound Hiders, Mute, and the Energy Curtain.

The Interactive Pillows is an example - it is a pair of pillows that transmit glowing emotions to each other, no matter the distance, and Tic-Tac-Textiles - a pair of furniture that involves you in a subtle game with a mysterious, unknown opponent are two of the results that have attracted lots of attention on international exhibitions and conferences. Through a series of design experiments, we explored the substantially new forms that might be possible as well as developing interdisciplinary design practices.


IT+Textiles was a design research program in 2001-2004 led by Interactive Institute and Newmad Technologies, primarily funded by VINNOVA (the Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems). Partners included CR&T, Gatespace, Interaction Design Group IDC | Chalmers, Ludvig Svensson, Marks Pelle Vävare, Newmad Technologies, and the Swedish School of Textiles at the University College Borås. Collaborators included the Borås Art Museum, IFP SICOMP, IKEA of Sweden, IT University Göteborg, ToyLabs ITR AB, and Volvo Truck.

IT+Textiles team

Johan Redström (project leader) with Anders Ernevi, Daniel Eriksson, Lars Hallnäs, Hanna Landin, Ulrika Löfgren, Henrik Jernström, Margot Jacobs, Peter Ljungstrand, Ramia Mazé, Tobias Rydenhag, Johan Thoresson, Erik Wistrand, Linda Worbin, and Maria Åresund

Collaborators at Chalmers University of Technology: Lars Hallnäs and Hanna Landin; Collaborators at the Swedish School of Textiles: Lars Hallnäs, Carolin Müller, Linda Worbin, and Margareta Zetterblom; Collaborators at Newmad Technologies: Patricija Jaksetic, Maria Redström, and Erik Wistrand.


The program resulted in the book IT+Textiles edited by Johan Redström, Maria Redström and Ramia Mazé, authored by Daniel Eriksson, Anders Ernevi, Lars Hallnäs, Margot Jacobs, Patricija Jaksetic, Henrik Jernström, Hanna Landin, Peter Ljungstrand, Ulrika Löfgren, Ramia Mazé, Carolin Müller, Johan Redström, Maria Redström, Tobias Rydenhag, Johan Thoresson, Erik Wistrand, Linda Worbin, Margareta Zetterblom and Maria Åresund. It was originally published in 2005 by the IT Press/Edita Helsinki ISBN 951-826-793-6. It has been reprinted in 2010 by the Interactive Institute and the Swedish School of Textiles at the University of Borås ISBN 978-91-975576-5-8.
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Link to a book abstract

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