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bauhaus, bauhaus 4.0, CAD CAM, collaboration, computational design, designing matter, digital design, digital fabrication, digital teaching, digital teaching formats, experimental prototyping, felting, folding, GH, hybrid learning, informing matter, Material form-finding, Material studies, parametric design, parametric modelling, patterns, prototyping, research, research by design, Rhino Grasshoper, robotic fabrication, robotic needle felting, robotics, teaching, textile design, textile research, textiles, upscaling textiles, Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin

Dates: Wintersemester 21/22

Project supervision: Agata Kycia, Andrea Rossi, Jörg Hugo

Institution: Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin, Textil- und Flächendesign

Students BA Textile- and Surface Design: Anna Schmökel, Ewa Nowacka, Paolina Bumeder, Zäzilie Schilling, Jinyu Li, Xingwen Pan, Antonia Schulze, Xenia Schelper

Guest student MA Textile- and Surface Design: Jessica Farmer

The Design Studio Felt & Fold explored 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.

Final presentation of Design Studio FELT & FOLD, Weißensee Kunsthochschule Berlin. Photo by J. Hugo

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 investigated folding as a way to create three-dimensional geometries from flat-sheet materials. As part of the course, we studied 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 aimed at 1:1 scale production of larger prototypes at the weissensee kunsthochschule berlin. The Solid Rapid Prototyping Lab was 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 were tested and evaluated, where recorded videos and programming codes were automatically shared on an internal online platform, aiming to exchange knowledge and share experience for future projects.

This project is part of the collaborative, BMBF-funded 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).

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