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Changing Identity

Designer Samira Boon is working with heat-reactive yarn on two new projects that allow the user to interact with textiles. 

By Cassandra Pizzey / 04-07-2013

A shawl that changes colour when you wear it and a lift that invites you to interact are two new project by textile designer Samira Boon

A series of heat-responsive shawls featuring either an iris code or finger print pattern are the starting point for Changing Identity. As the shawl heats up thanks to the wearer’s body temperature, the pattern becomes barely visible, leaving a white-on-white image. When the material cools, the pattern is once again visible on a background of grey or pink.  

“The iris code and finger print are becoming more and more visually linked to our identity,” says Boon. “Wearing this garment becomes a meaningful experience with an underlying message.”

Made from a slightly stiff material, the shawls have a very natural feel. Yarn is taken from a rather unexpected source: the banana plant. It’s leaves called abacá produce threads that can be weaved into a light, semi-transparent  texture. “The threads made from these leaves were traditionally used in Japanese summer kimonos thanks to their lightweight yet form-holding properties.”Combined with a special yarn that changes colour in response to heat, the message of the shawl becomes a subtle one, only known by its user. 

Heat reactive yarns are used on a much larger scale for the Interactive Elevator, a project for the Architextiles research project. This research project looks at ways of integrating textiles within architecture in new and innovative ways and employed a multi-disciplinary group of architects, artists, designers and other creatives to do just that. 

Boon teamed up with Ed van Hinte, Saskia Roelofs and Margreet Sweers to look at ways of making visible, integrating and reinforcing the natural characteristics of textiles. One such application was found inside a lift, a great invention but not one most people would choose to spend time in.  

“This large mechanical contraption forces people into each other’s comfort zone. They tend to stand against the walls in order to keep their distance. But what if the elevator became interactive. What if it could sense and show your presence, even after you have left?”

The group transformed the small space inside the lift into a more dynamic one by covering the walls with a heat-reactive yarn. Just like in the shawls, the thread colour changes when in contact with body warmth and changes back when in contact with cool air. Imagine walking into a lift that still shows the contours of those who have just exited. A light-coloured silhouette is all that’s left.

“The elevator is in a constant state of flux where user’s aren’t necessarily active participators but are definitely the most important factor.” These new forms of textiles challenge users to be creative, interact with other users and stimulate their fantasy. All that in one elevator ride!

Architextiles is a research project on innovative interior textile applications. Initiated by Fokkema & Partners and supported by Creative Industries Fund NL, Samira Boon invited to join the multi disciplinary team of (interior) architect, fashion, textile and theatre designers.