FELT & FOLD
The Design Studio Felt & Fold explores the potential of robotic manufacturing for customized production of nonwoven textiles. Focus is put on the mechanical way of entangling fibers known as needle felting. This technique bonds loose fibers by stabbing them with barbed needles, thus creating a monomaterial with locally differentiated properties. Such an approach allows the design of heterogeneous materials not by differentiating their chemical composition, but by their mechanical structure instead. Additionally, the seamless way of connecting fibers together does not require any additional bonding materials, what makes it an environment-friendly production technique.
Felting is one of the oldest known techniques for textile production and the widespread adoption of digitally-driven manufacturing creates new opportunities to combine this old technique with new computational tools. Automation of the felting process, increased speed and precision, as well as the possibility to program the robotic movement and hence locally control fibers density and distribution, open up a new field of possibilities. It allows the design of nonwoven materials with locally changing properties: transitioning from hard to soft or from opaque to transparent.
Such a design approach has a lot of potential in the architectural context, as it suggests new solutions for sustainable, innovative building systems that contain both: the material itself and the connecting methodology. Such a system is by nature recyclable and sustainable, and it can provide a wide range of geometries, textures and surface qualities.
Parallel to the felting experiments, the Design Studio Felt & Fold investigates folding as a way to create three-dimensional geometries from flat-sheet materials. As part of the course, we will study how different fiber densities affect the folding behavior of nonwovens and design the folding by informing the pattern of the felt.
Finally, Design Studio Felt & Fold aims at 1:1 scale production of a larger prototype at the weissensee kunsthochschule berlin, thus we will work as one team. The Solid Rapid Prototyping Lab will be the place of experimentation and design development, our laboratory and main tool for research and design exploration. Next to the physical experiments and robotic fabrication, new forms of documentation will be tested and evaluated, where recorded videos and programming codes are automatically shared on an internal online platform, aiming to exchange knowledge and share experience for future projects.
We will work as one group, share our knowledge and learn from each other’s experiences. No prior Grasshopper or Robotics experience is required to join this project, basic Rhino skills are helpful but not a must.
This project is part of the collaborative research project Bauhaus 4.0 by Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin (Product Design, Textile-and Surface Design and Foundations) and TU Berlin (Institute of Education, Department of Educational Psychology)
Project supervision: Agata Kycia, Jörg Hugo, Andrea Rossi