Weaving with light
Careful lighting can give materials that little extra. Light-emitting materials have an added sparkle all of their own. The textiles here have been developed as a new way of integrating light with material.
The results have been developed by the University of Borås in Sweden, specifically the Swedish School of Textiles. Students at the school developed the materials as part of research into how to weave lighting into materials. In this case, that often means strip or bead lighting which is literally threaded into the textile.
The fabrics make use of fibre optics which are woven into the textiles. By using fibre optic cables which have a similar diameter to the thickest threads used, the lighting is integrated seamlessly. Light pours out at the cables’ ends to highlight the fabric.
In another example, LED beads light up specific areas of the material, displaying colour nuances. In a third case, glowing fluorescent polymer optic tubes light up, showing off the fabric’s texture and weave to great effect, particularly in a darkened environment.
“We want to show another way of working with textiles than the traditional piece goods,” explains one of the students exhibiting in Stockholm. “This way, we’ll also show all the possibilities there are concerning how people can work with textiles.”
It’s very true: the exceptionally pretty lighting has a serious function. It directs our attention to the composition and texture of the fabric. This makes us really look at the material, and that helps us understand how it works as well as what it is able to do.
In some of the fabrics, the originating inspiration is clear: falling water, for instance, or how letters of the alphabet shine through textiles. In some cases, the light in integrated into the textiles in a more abstract design.
In each case, however, the combination of lighting with material lends the textile an exciting quality. It also sets the tone for what we may soon be able to do with textiles on a large scale.