Research Focuses

Research Focus: Soft Technologies
Lead: Prof. Dr. Zane Berzina
The research focus Soft Technologies facilitates a forward-looking practice-led design inquiry with a focus on textile practices and material innovations at the intersection of technology, science, crafts and culture. The fertile space in-between these traditionally mostly separated fields; the potential for mutually fruitful synergies between these diverse disciplines is what fascinates us and provides the general framework for our work. This approach enables and fosters cross-disciplinary design research and practices with an aim to address the various challenges and needs of our society and environment in close collaboration with experts from across various scientific institutes, industry, academia, and cultural sector.
Within this context the core interest lies on creative and scholarly investigations of textiles and material futures combined with thorough practical hands-on inquiry of the subject matter. We are addressing the societal changes and needs from various perspectives ranging from sustainability, social aspects, well-being and health to highly technological viewpoints, merging crafts with digital technologies, exploring the realms of machine-human interactions and ubiquitous computing through e-textile practices or growing materials using bio-technological methods.
We are passionate about the future opportunities that soft technologies, textile cultures and material innovation in general, combined with design thinking are offering in order to develop innovative haptic interfaces for the body and its various environments. Our research and graduate projects are spanning a broad range of applications including interiors, product design, fashion and clothing, sound design, system design, sustainable innovation as well as science and technology communication employing design methods.
Research Focus: Functional Surfaces and Active Matter in Spatial Context
Lead: Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Christiane Sauer
The research focuses on the development and implementation of sustainable material strategies in the context of space, buildings and facades, on active and adaptive systems, lightweight structures and energetically effective surfaces. Combining material, technology and design functional surfaces are being developed for architectural and spatial applications.
Material properties and material geometries become an integral part of the research approach. They are not fixed, but can be changed by rearranging their components. Due to their open construction textile- and fibre-based materials offer the possibility of specifically tailoring surface properties and functionalising its components. The upscaling of textile techniques such as woven, braided or looped structures as well as the development of novel fiber components for surfaces offer new possibilities for spatial implementation of textile technology reaching beyond membrane construction. Flexibility and “soft” structures open up new potentials for adaptable architecture.
Active, adaptive and changeable material systems can react to external conditions, e.g. to create energetically effective surfaces for spaces and buildings. With a special focus on technical textiles, smart materials and biomaterials new design approaches for active surfaces are explored. Interdisciplinary cooperations with partners from engineering and architectural practice, natural sciences, material industry and material research ensure a relevant and practical research outcome.