Mili John Tharakan (IN)
CUTE Center, National University of Singapore


We aim to journey through the unexplored landscapes of Japanese and Indian textile communities in search of relationships that might be forged between traditional textile crafts, interactive technology and smart materials. The tacit knowledge, skills and insight into materials, as well as the sensitive competence of these traditional craftsmen might expand the possibility of interactive technology and smart materials in a way not yet explored. Despite the rich textile history in India and Japan, very little or no work has emerged in Interactive textiles from these communities. Traditionally, craftsmen were seen as innovators in a community. They continuously searched for new materials and methods to push the boundaries of knowledge in and through their craft. We will facilitate a space for craftsmen to once again be the innovators of the community by bridging the gap between them and the digital revolution. For the proposed project we have adopted practice-based research methodology for a deeper hands-on interaction with and for the artisans to immerse in. Initial workshop with artisans will introduce them to smart materials (eg. colour changing inks, lilypad arduino). The design exploration with and by the artisans will take place through collaborative projects in the field.

Our attempt is to democratize technology and create a space for artisans to explore new materials to further their crafts. Through this process of exploration and collaboration, we aim to make new advancements towards humanizing technology in meaningful ways. We propose to introduce new methods that will enable traditional crafts to shape the future of Neo Crafts and Digital technology. This project seeks to be a catalyst for the artisans as well as those steering the silent Digital Craft revolution today. The resulting knowledge will be valuable to those creating textiles in our times, encouraging them to examine the future of traditional crafts, especially narrative textiles, as well as for artisans to revive their traditional methods. It can also direct the future of Crafts, starting with redefining our understanding of Craft itself and enabling us to explore the space between craft and gadgets.