Inspiring E-textile People: Interview with Mika Satomi

Every Friday I will be publishing a full-length untranslated interview with one of the e-textile artists featured in my book "Wearables für Maker: Experimentieren, nähen, gestalten".  These remarkable people are talking about their e-textile practice and perspective, failures and successes, tricks and inspirations.


Mika Satomi
Artist/Designer/Educator, one half of KOBAKANT

© Courtesy of Mika Satomi.



How and when did you get into e-textiles/wearables?
I first got into the E-Textiles as I worked in a project together with Hannah (the other half of KOBAKANT). We needed to embed a game controller in a back of a jacket, and there we started to use the conductive fabric to make a soft button. During the process of making this project, we discovered that one could also make sensors and the whole electrical connections with these conductive textile materials. It was fascinating to find out that you could create electronics with very different materiality and aesthetics than conventional ones.

Your very first project with e-Textiles?
Massage Me

A project you are proud of?
All of them :) it is hard to say…
How To Get What You Want
The Crying Dress

Main source of inspiration (Other artists? Tools? Situations?)

Materials and materiality. Small discovery of “it works!” which sometimes leads to bigger project concept. When working in the KOBAKANT collaboration, we often have long conversation over dinner or sometimes while hiking, and get inspired by each other’s thought and current interest.

Favourite tool?

Multimeter. Good Scissors. Pin-Cushion Armband (Hannah's Handmade)

Favourite component?

mosFET

Favourite crafting technique?

Igne Oyasi (Turkish Needle Lace), Weaving, Embroidery

Favourite trick / hack?

Trick: Cutting conductive fabric with vinyl cutter and soldering SMD components directly onto conductive fabric. It only works with Copper Fabric, but it makes it much easier and faster to make e-Textile circuit.

Your most frustrating moment with e-textiles?

After hours of tedious stitching, noticing that it looks ugly or it does not function. Well, this happened very often when I started to work with e-Textiles, and now I guess I learned to test step by step, and to make design samples before going for bigger pieces... It still happens occasionally, though.

What do you do if a project doesn't work? How do you approach bugs / problems / failure?

Well, I usually test parts by parts to track down the problem, to find out if it is software problem or hardware problem. I use multimeter very often to check all the connections while working.

How do you start a new project?

Sketching out some ideas and testing out with smaller experiments and samples. It usually takes several iterations before reaching the final design.

Advice to e-textile newbies?

Please be patient. It pays off when you work on it with diligence, making neat stitches and perfect knots. It is interesting to realize the clever design of everyday electronic objects, and also to think how they can be made differently using non conventional materials like e-Textiles.

The Crying Dress. © Courtesy of KOBAKANT.
The Crying Dress.© Courtesy of KOBAKANT
The Crying Dress. © Courtesy of KOBAKANT
The Crying Dress. © Courtesy of KOBAKANT
E-textile sensors. © Courtesy of Mika Satomi.
Mika's Studio. The Crying Dress. © Courtesy of Mika Satomi.
Mika's tools. The Crying Dress. © Courtesy of Mika Satomi.


Comments

  1. Enjoyed the interview a lot, thank you! Looking forward to the next ones.

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