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Share your research.

Deadline: 1 September 2020

Editorial Information

Guest Editors:
Anne Toomey
Elaine Igoe
Amy Winters
Elif Ozden Yenigun


Journal of Textile Design Research and Practice

Visit Journal Articles



This special issue probes the practice of textiles and material-led researchers from both methodological and applied definitions of SOFT SYSTEMS. We invite contributions from practitioners and scholars who explore complex systems by privileging and asserting materials and making in their creative and critical methodologies and practices. 

Designers working in and with SOFT SYSTEMS work with hermeneutic approaches often synonymous with the fields of both traditional and innovative textiles and fashion such as moodboards, material research, drawing, storytelling, computing, sampling, speculative design and more to expose anomalies in perceived circumstances and create affective encounters to explore them.  They work from the speculative and applied, for the now and far future, from the kitchen table, the lab bench, the team meeting to the gallery floor.

In organisational management, ‘soft systems methodology’ (SSM) has been used for over thirty years in the analysis of complex situations where diverse viewpoints are held across a diverse group of stakeholders and the ‘problem’ is undefined (Checkland 2000).  SSM recognises flux as the state of being and cautions against the reification or solidification of parts of that flux as ‘situations, problems or issues’. Rather it suggests that social reality is continuously, socially constructed and that individuals can hold and express differing perceptions of that ever-changing social reality at any one time.  The focus on ambivalent individuality and subjectivity within a fluid or ‘liquid’ paradigm of modernity (Bauman 2000) invites questions surrounding the role of material objects in lived experience; key to theories of New Materialism and Posthumanism. 

Diverse and interdisciplinary practices that are ‘characterised by non-linear dynamics and ‘simplexity’ (University of Edinburgh) expose our relationally networked and liquid state and transcend the boundaries of material outcomes. Concurrent explorations and integrations of technological, scientific, design and craft processes within textile and material-led systems avoid ontological permanence and move away from any preconceived understandings of textiles, fabric or cloth to examples of radical ‘textilic’ practice (Igoe 2020). 

We ask:

  • How are textile design practitioners developing new understandings of how objects operate within our lived experiences?
  • How can textilic practice encourage expansive and meaningful design of systems and services?
  • How can postdigital textile practice deliver complementary strands of R&D strategy?
  • How can we identify soft systems methodologies in textiles and material-led interdisciplinary research?

Areas of Interest Might Include:

  • Programmable Materials (Soft Robotics, Active Matter) 
  • Data Materialisation
  • Postdigital textile practice
  • Novel processes for crafting technology
  • Design and making in and for complex social systems 
  • Affect and aesthetics in systems and services
  • D-STEM / STEAM materials-led projects
  • Tangible User Interfaces and Ephemeral Interfaces
  • Material Properties and Semantics
  • VR/AR/Mixed Reality
  • Textile Interactions
  • Narratives/Storytelling 
  • Knowledge Exchange 
  • Emerging methodologies for R&D 
  • Machine Learning for Craft and Design

Helping you Publish your Research

We aim to make publishing with Taylor & Francis a rewarding experience for all our authors. Please visit our Author Services website for more information and guidance, and do contact us if there is anything we can help with!

Submission Instructions

The deadline for full papers is 1st September 2020.  If you have any queries please contact the guest editors for this issue: [email protected].


Bauman, Z. (2000). Liquid modernity. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.
Checkland, P. (2000) Soft Systems Methodology: A Thirty Year Retrospective, Systems Research and Behavioral Science 17, S11–S58 
Igoe, E. (2018). Change matters: theories of postdigital textiles and material design. In C. Storni, K. Leahy, M. McMahon, P. Lloyd, & E. Bohemia (Eds.), Proceedings of DRS 2018 International Conference: Catalyst (pp. 1787-1799). (DRS International Conference Series; Vol. 4). Design Research Society.
Igoe, E. (forthcoming 2020) Textile Design Theory in the Making. London: Bloomsbury
Soft Systems Research Group at the Royal College of Art, London <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6WiP15OiaA>
Toomey, A. and Kapsali, V.(2014) D-STEM: a Design led approach to STEM innovation. In: A Matter of Design: Making Society through Science and Technology Proceedings of the 5th STS Italia Conference. STS Italia Publishing, Milan, pp. 425-438. 
University of Edinburgh Soft Systems Group Bioengineering Group <https://softsystemsgroup.com/>
Winters, A. (2017) Why does soft matter? Exploring the design space of soft robotic materials and programmable machines. PhD thesis. London: Royal College of Art.

Practice Examples

  • Lauren Bowker and The Unseen (material alchemy)
  • Natsai Audrey Chieza (biodesign)
  • Sara + Sarah (smart textile craft)
  • Marion Lean (data materialisation through textiles)
  • Daisy Ginberg
  • Loomia (soft circuit systems)
  • Carole Collet (Living Systems Lab)
  • Sarah Walker (innovation management)
  • Behnaz Farahi (material interaction)
  • Suzanne Lee and Modern Meadow (biofabricated leather)
  • Skylar Tibbits (active matter)
  • Daniela Rosner (human centred design)
  • Danielle Wilde (Embodied design)
  • Lucy Hardcastle (Sensual storytelling)