Accepted Paper:

e-Textiles and Recovery in Participatory Wellbeing Design  


Sarah Kettley (Edinburgh College of Art, The University of Edinburgh)
Richard Kettley (Sherwood Psychotherapy Training Institute )

Paper short abstract:

Hybrid e-textile materials offer opportunities for convivial crafting and support for wellbeing. We discuss participant experiences in e-textile workshops, conducted using a Person-Centred Approach, revealing concerns about the pervasive narrative of Recovery.

Paper long abstract:

e-Textile materials include conductive yarns and fabrics, hardware such as LEDs and batteries, as well as traditional textile products such as yarns, fabric and haberdashery. Research has already indicated that convivial crafting with e-textile materials opens up a space for more than one kind of knowledge (see for example, Giles and van der Linden 2015, Robertson 2017, Rode et al 2015). Giles and van der Linden point out that creative workshops and e-textile toolkits are a promising way to enable imaginaries of future technologies (2015), while Rode et al suggest that 'computational thinking' is extended by 'computational making', as the products of such embedded computational materials necessarily move beyond the desktop and into the 'real' world.

In this paper, the authors present a project which employed e-textiles as part of a novel ethical approach to Participatory Design with members of a local Mind network. Participants were invited to make e-textile objects, building an experiential platform towards the informed collaborative design of wellbeing services using embedded technologies. Experiences within the workshops tended to support these claims for e-textiles as a particularly engaging and convivial form of practice. We discuss the framing of the workshops as sites for creative skills development, at the same time as attending to the non-directive principles of the Person-Centred Approach (Schmid 2005). Finally, we report on findings that the concept of recovery can be challenging for individuals accessing mental health services, while design research agendas typically assume a normative narrative from ill-health to useful citizenship.

Panel P020
Making, Materials and Recovery: Perspectives "from the inside"