Empowerment through Product Design: Digital textile pattern design for grip development in healthcare
In the meeting between textile pattern design and 3D printing techniques, there is a potential for developing inclusive products for healthcare. There is a great need for this from both patients and healthcare providers. It is further an educational need to examine how design education can facilitate the development of such skills because digital solutions has opened up new opportunities. Within design field there has been explored many digital opportunities in textiles, however there is a need for more studies of how digital technology can be used to develop textile pattern design with gripping surface feature on products to provide an improved grip and an aesthetic added value. Despite the fact that there have been many studies in user-specific product design and function-oriented products, there is such a need for pattern design further developed, and there is a great potential for development of the gripping surfaces of products in health because many surfaces, whether it is wood, metal, ceramics or plastics are often without design and pattern. Students, teachers and industry will benefit from such expertise knowledge on the tactile, aesthetic and practical value in developing new and innovative products. The research question was therefore: how can textile patterns/surface design help empower patients through grip on surfaces? There were three objectives for the research (a) to perform material experiments to create a user manual that explains the parameters needed for designs and print in 3D textile patterns; (B) to interview faculty and students about their experience on such an approach in perspective of Vygotsky's zone of proximal development (ZPD) and related to their experience of learning through collaboration; and (c) to apply knowledge from material testing to create a design manual that explain the capabilities of design and print in 3D textile patterns in inclusive product design for healthcare contexts. Experiments were done at two product design educations, one in Norway and one in United Kingdom, with 3D printers, laser cutters and waterjets which can print pattern and design. The documentation show how to design a pattern that would normally be printed on the fabric in a one-dimensional design and in the study the pattern was 3D printed in other materials and used as function relevant, decorative and reinforced gripping surfaces. This approach was combined with interviews with health professionals who evaluated the results in relation to their practice. The fabric was used to enhance the quality of the interview and to explore how to increase the aesthetic value for users, such as hand feeling, anti-slip and sense of joy in surfaces. The study shows how teachers can collaborate across disciplines to leverage each other's expertise and how product design students can participate in tasks that give them insight into the textile world and new knowledge of digital-based textile printing and pattern construction for an improved user experience in health products.