Zane Berzina's practice based Ph.D. 'skinstories :: charting and mapping the skin' reflects on the current developments within material research, biology and technology, their properties and the possibilities of their application in design. Within this framework skin tissue and its 'intelligent technology' is investigated as a model for interactive textiles, particularly focusing on aspects of membrane and display, which embodies protection, identity and communication. The work also explores skin as a 'smart nature material' and examines its aesthetic and functional potential for the development of responsive, active and curative textile membranes.
The main idea with this body of work was to develop textile systems that enable individuals to experience a responsive environment by using analogies of human skin tissue in relation to my own textile practice. It was anticipated that these new design concepts should encourage people to interact creatively with their surroundings by helping them to explore their biological senses in novel ways and enhance their physical and psychological wellbeing by improving the sensory environment. In order to do this, the structures and functions of human skin tissue were examined employing scientific methods from the perspective of a textile designer. Selected properties of skin were translated into a textiles vocabulary by identifying a range of textile-related technologies. By investigating the potential of new, smart and industrial materials as well as flexible electronics in combination with more traditional textile materials and processes, a range of prototype textile systems for both the body and its various environments have been conceptualized and produced. Further developments of these concepts and systems are ongoing.
This Ph.D. project was conducted at the London College of Fashion, the University of the Arts London between 2000 and 2005.