Magnets: Material for the future

image from www.kraeutli.com

When I was a textile design student, and we had briefs looking at innovation in textiles, we looked at example upon example of electronics embedded in textiles. There has been a push to develop textiles that integrate new technology, in the hope that exciting materials of the future would result. However, the marriage of electronics and textiles always seems to lead down the same path - you have a garment that has to be plugged in or battery powered to perform a gimmick.

The real source for injecting novelty into textiles is magnetism. I really believe this, and use magnetic fields (obsessively) in my own work for this reason. Ferrofluid is a fantastic example of the potential of magnetism to inspire. Another example is Paul Cocksedge Studio's giant magnetic coin, that drew people to play with the effects of spare change on the surface of a giant magnet. It is an accessible physical property, much more reliable and durable than electronics.

Here is an example of how textiles and magnets can come together to produce new tactility and new aesthetics. Florian Krautli designed a prototype for a curtain embedded with high power rare earth magnets. He arranged them in a pattern so that the curtain can snap up and shrink. You can imagine how intriguing this material would be to interact with. That is the power of magnets - a material that inspires the future.


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