Light textiles is a research work which focuses on the development of light textiles based on the integration of optical fibres into textile structures. The aim is to create textile light designs which offer big light surfaces that have an even all over and strong light effect. Finally they could be used as big movable light screens in a space either private or public.

What am I?

Am I a designer, researcher, artist or craftsman? Today I find myself as a designer more and more in a field of cross-over of disciplines. As more as I enter the field of so-called Smart textiles as more I get lost in the question of who I am as a designer today and what are my tasks. I did not enter the field of Smart textiles because I wanted to be smart and therefore jumped into a trendy thing to do, no- I entered this field because I found a subject which affected me so strongly that I take risks everyday, to do things I have never done before, nor do I have knowledge about them. All started with me discovering again, that light is such an important part of human life that it also can challenge the textile designer to include it into his/her work.

Woven light powered by Sun Energy

Out of one year light experiences in extremes (in Scandinavia) the diploma thesis "woven light- powered by sun energy" (Jansen, 2006) arose. In this work the author of the present text had developed the basic idea to build up a textile surface with two different sides which each have individual functions. One of the sides is equipped with solar technology for energy generation and the other side has the function of a light source. It is a fascinating idea to develop light out of light. However the work emerged not only out of this fascination. Rather, it is understood as research in a new, defining field where different disciplines meet; textile technology and design, solar technology and micro- electronics. And it arose under belief that one of the present and future tasks of a designer is to be engaged with the utilisation of renewable energy sources. Out of this work many hand woven prototypes have been developed: both energy-generating and light-emitting. To continue the development of this design concept the next step is to work on the technical and industrial reproducibility of one functional side: light-emitting textile surfaces. That is the point there the current research on light textiles starts.

Light dots cooperation with Textilforschungsinstitut Thüringen - Vogtland.

Technical Research

The driving question for the present research work is: is it possible to produce light textiles based on the integration of optical fibres on shaft and jacquard looms? To start with a broad range of experiments with optical fibres on industrial shaft looms has been set up to see if they would withstand the industrial weaving process. Based on the previous research weaving structures which support the right bending angles and right reflection bases for the light emitted through optical fibres to shine over their whole surface have been chosen. (Originally optical fibres are supposed to send the light from one end to the other without any loss or shining across their length.) General challenges with the use of optical fibres are their high sensibility to strong binding and kinking angles. To strong and sharp bending will damage the optical fibres permanently viz. the transmitted light will escape strongly at the bending angle and no light will go further through the optical fibre. A similar problem arises through scratches or alike damages.