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Transforming Touch project is all about serious play

September 8th, 2020 / By: / Out There

Designer transforms household lighting into a colorful and tactile play experiences. Photo: Michelle Rinow.

London-based smart textile designer Michelle Rinow has unveiled her Transforming Touch Series, which was developed based on research about the benefits of sensory play for adults. “Many people think play is just for children, but I believe play is necessary through all stages of life and should be accessible to people no matter their physical abilities, age or gender,” Rinow says. “Gaining inspiration from the tactile objects of childhood, I investigated different ways of touching and playing with materials as well as what colors and materials inspire people to play.” A story in Knitting Industry calls her designs a cross-application of textiles, technology and material futures. Her design methodology places emphasis on human interaction, connection and engagement through color and materials. The knit samples in the project were designed using the Stoll and Shima Seiki industial knitting machines. 

The series uses inflatable technology to create movement, and LEDS for illumination. Sensors within the knits allow them to respond to users’ touch, and using Arduino software, Rinow was able to code how the pieces would behave. 

“When touched the light turns on and the piece begins to move in unison, both remain on until touched again. Alternatively, the piece could have been coded to flash when touched in one place and inflate when touched in another,” she says. 

The inner portion of the light is made of a rubber inflatable that enables the lighting to change shape too. The plush rim of the lighting acts as a switch, and when “squished, squeezed, poked or stroked,” the light activates and moves. The project used cotton, silk and nylon blend yarns. Cotton and silk achieved the soft handle, while nylon provided stretch and a “techy”aesthetic.