material futures, circularity, fiber design, future craft, bio materials, Textile Prototyping Lab

Future Textiles – Digital Crafts

Prof. Dr. Zane Berzina, Essi Johanna Glomb, Sara Diaz Rodriguez, Katrin Münzberg, Karina Wirth

Cooperation partners:
Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V.,
Textilforschungsinstitut Thüringen-Vogtland e.V.,
Fraunhofer Institut für Zuverlässigkeit und Mikrointegration

Hella Jongerius, Veronika Aumann, Ursula Wagner, Justina Monceviciute, Lottozero u.v.m.

Sophie Schmidt, Samira Akhavan, Stefanie Eichler, Lobke Beckfeld, Suzan Camlik, Juni Neyenhuys, Rebecca van de Sand, Vera Castelijns, Tau Pibernat und Jessica Zmijan

It is not craft as ‚handicraft‘ that defines contemporary craftmanship: it is craft as knowledge that empowers a maker to take charge of technology. – Peter Dormer, 1997

The semester project focused on the combination of traditional textile techniques and the potentials of ‘digital fabrication’. In this context the use of digital tools was considered as an extension of human manual skills and its role for a contemporary understanding of craft, design and technology was examined. Especially the combination of digitally controlled processes (e.g. computer controlled weaving and knitting, parametric modelling and 3D-printing or e-textiles) in connection with current materials research has led to a whole spectrum of new possibilities in the field of textiles and flexible surface systems, which were to be explored in the project ‘Future Textiles – Digital Crafts’. Numerous guests and experts* such as Hella Jongerius or Lotto Zero from the fields of textile design, design thinking and design research complemented the textile-technological orientation of the semester project.


The semester project Future Textiles – Digital Crafts was carried out within the framework of the Textile Prototyping Lab, a research project in which the Weissensee University of Arts Berlin, the Saxon Textile Research Institute, the Textile Research Institute Thuringia-Vogtland, the Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration and the Prototypes Collective e.V. (Fab Lab Berlin) to set up a textile innovation laboratory. The participants in the semester project had the opportunity to implement textile prototypes in the central lab at the weißensee kunsthochschule berlin and in the partner institutes, thus gaining a deeper insight into textile-technological processes and using them.

All results of the semester project ‘Future Textiles – Digital Crafts’ are archived in the TPL material library and can be accessed by visitors as inspiration source.

Infos Textile Prototyping Lab:


A Matter of Form

Sophie Schmidt explored the use of coincidence and deviation in controlled processes. For this purpose she tested a variety of materials on prototyping machines of TPL and on the industrial embroidery machine of TITV Greiz. Through the intentional use of apparently ‘faulty’ effects such as loose thread tension and fabric distortion, new aesthetic and functional approaches could be tested.


Samira Akhavan and Stefanie Eichler researched the hygroscopic properties of cellulose. In a detailed study, the two students investigated the interplay of water-storing paper yarn in combination with water-repellent materials. They constructed active multilayer fabrics and textiles with long floats, which showed a clear change in shape when moisture was added. In the multi-layered fabric, a deliberate opening and closing of sections was achieved just by the hygroscopic properties of the starting materials. All principles were first designed and tested on TC2 Jacquard Loom in the central Lab. The best results were then successfully implemented on the industrial weaving machine of the TITV Greiz.


Lobke Beckfeld, Suzan Camlik, Juni Neyenhuys and Rebecca van de Sand investigated the recycling of cellulose textile waste. Sorted by fibre quality and colour, new yarns were spun with a small addition of raw fibres.  Each yarn is unique.The materials were tested on the TC2, industrially woven and knitted at STFI in Chemnitz.  In the design concept developed in parallel, texts were coded using a new sign language to create an emotional link to the textile products. In the design concept developed in parallel to the materiel research, texts were coded using a new sign language – using the self-developed Re.Code-software – , which is intended to create an emotional connection to the textile products.



Vera Castelijns, Tau Pibernat and Jessica Zmijan addressed the upcycling of T-shirt waste. In an extensive series of tests, the best possible cutting method for T-shirts was determined in order to make the resulting yarns usable on industrial textile machines. By using the CMYK system of the TITV Greiz, a binding system was developed which allows fast patterning with large colour variations. This upcycling method allows the garment waste to be translated into high-quality textiles.

Ropes in various sizes were produced on a self-built rope machine, which can be connected to textile surfaces with the help of 3D-printed connectors.

Prototyping at the Institutes and at TPL