From Projects

Costume Design: Kristi Kuusk Coreography/Dance: Angelina Deck Photos: Dominika Potuzakova

CHACUN(E): Thermochromic dance performance

CHACUN(E) is a performance costume designed to change its colour by temperature fluctuation on the body or the ambient. The detailed crochet motives change from black into different colours on the dancer’s body based on her body temperature change which is closely related to the choreography.

The costume consists of crocheted snowflake shapes, that are dyed with thermo sensitive pigments and connected by hand stitches to one another. They move together with the dancer’s body and transform the shape of the costume, pattern and sizes of the flakes. By the temperature change in the ambient or dancer’s body the thermo sensitive black colour becomes transparent revealing the colourful original colours of the yarns used to crochet the snowflakes. The dancer becomes aware of her own body temperature and can react to the playful subtle change created by her own movement. The garment reacts differently during every performance due to difference of movement, ambience, weather, dancer. It creates a very close and intimate unique non recurring interaction between the dancer and the costume.


Happening (29 June 2013) curated by Agony Art (agony at Chisenhale Dance Space, London.  Light and technical support by Ellen Knops.

 Music: J.S. Bach, Chaconne, the 5th part of Partita No.2 in D-moll, 14 min.

Angelina: “In this work I am exploring the internal movement, potential, intelligence. The place before things are defined and concrete but almost about to become and reveal themselves. The place before the interpretation and form, wise and mouldable, where our free will merges with the higher knowing.”

Kristi: “It’s beautiful how the structure of a traditional crochet and the dancer’s body movement change the colour on the costume.”

Project realised by: Kristi Kuusk (TU/e), Angelina Deck

Costume Design: Kristi Kuusk
Coreography/Dance: Angelina Deck
Photos: Dominika Potuzakova/ Kristi Kuusk

More about thermochromics: Lace exporations, printing and mixing.

Materials: grey tricot knit fabric; black thermochromic pigment 27C; cotton, wool and viscose yarns; elastic ribbons.

Techniques: Hand crocheted; hand dyed; hand sewn.

Year Completed: 2013

Smart Phocus with Sabine Staartjes

By the initiative of Museum of Image (MOTI) in Breda, The Netherlands, the technology and knowledge developed within the Bedtime Stories project was applied into the artwork called Smart Phocus (Figure X) of Sabine Staartjes.

The eyes, ears and lips, that are part of the textile design are recognised by the camera in the tablet computer and augmented layer of “noise” and information is displayed there. It expresses concern about the amount of technical noise around us and stresses the importance of focussing on each other.

Project realised by: Kristi Kuusk (TU/e), Unit040, Johan van den Acker Textielfabriek and Sabine Staartjes

Documentary video about the making of the project:

A thermal tribute for Estonian birthday!

Super interesting explorations on thermal printing, 3D printing and e-embroidery took 25.03.2013 – 27.03.2013 In the winter-crispy Helsinki School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Aalto ARTS)  and Aalto Media Factory, Aalto University.


The final piece is a collaborative work by Kristi Kuusk, Tatiana Krupinina, Tonje Kristensen, Nilla Berko and Riikka Saarela that represents a thermal transformation from summer to winter. It is a tribute for recent anniversary of Republic of Estonia on 24th of February, as the final state of the textile shows Estonian flag colours in a common nordic scene: blue sky, dark forrest and white snow on the ground. It is achieved by mixtures of thermal and non-thermal pigments and e-embroidery.

Participants from different universities explored what it means to design for dynamic patterns by using thermal printing on textiles. The workshop was given by Linda Worbin and Marjan Kooroshnia from Textile school in Boras, Sweden. We received detailed knowledge about reactive functions of thermal pigments and an excellent opportunity to try them out.

Thermo prints can change color from/to different combinations in various temperatures. For example designing with thermo pigments that react in temperatures, such as 15C, 27C, 31C, the same textile has three different faces depending on the temperature on the cloth or in the ambient in a specific moment. Taking into account the possible pattern and color combinations, designing for such complexity is a science on its own 🙂

The temperature change on the textile can be achieved by body contact, ambient temperature change, hot/cold air (hair dryer, cooler), iron; but also embedded soft electronics, like conductive threads that heat up by low current, which you can see on the prototype here as embroidered details on lines.

Work in progress and showtime!

Designing for the loop scarf

How to design a sustainable eTextile item? To understand that complex idea with all its interconnections I spent some days in Rotterdam last week.

During the V2 eTextile Sweatshop: Designing for the loop led by artists Mika Satomi (Kobakant), Hannah Perner-Wilson (Plusea) and sustainability expert Andreas Köhler (TU Delft), we looked into eco-concious eTextile design.

cards to consider

After inspiring presentations we started with a design brief to design a Sustainable e-textile activity monitor with ambient display.

Having some pre-defined criteria in our hand, we needed to design something that would incorporate: wool shearing as material extraction, knitting as manufacturing mean, train transport, usage of 5 years and would due recyclable when disposed.

My lovely team consisted of Kristi Kuusk (me), Fioen van Balgooi (Refinity), Claire Williams and Haka Son.


Multifunctional knitwear that understands when the wearer is getting cold, and according to the amount of snaps closed releases heat and creates a playful change in the pattern outside.

Design decisions concerning eco-effectiveness:

It must be ready-to-wear knit!

  • to not mix different techniques
  • to avoid some transport between factories
  • to make it in one place
  • un-knit possibility for recycling (As an example un-knit machine by Hedges, I.)

Use of a micro controller!

  • to benefit from the pulsing effect to save power (conductive threads are able to keep warmth quite a while, so they just need some power to heat up)

Use of a rechargeable battery!

  • easy to disassemble and charge

Choice of a multifunctional print showing!

  • care labels (draw attention to proper care and importance of it)
  • branding (avoid polyester labels)
  • heating (to know it’s “ON”)
  • esthetics, rising awareness

Design and prototyping process (Photos by: Kristi & Fioen)

Bedtime Stories Little Red Riding Hood

Bedtime Stories Little Red Riding Hood is weaving traditions together with technology. The concept connects traditional values and crafts with digital technologies for sustainability. It is offering an alternative way to translate fairy-tale knowledge into people’s personal experiences and pass that wisdom through generations as well as building up family stories together.

TexTales from Kristi Kuusk on Vimeo.

Bedtime Stories consists of a set of bed sheets that have images woven into the fabric. The images are recognised by a custom made software that displays 3D characters from a fairy tale through an iPad onto the textile. This allows parents to create personal stories with their kids while going to sleep.

Project realised by: Kristi Kuusk (TU/e), Unit040, Johan van den Acker Textielfabriek and Studio Toer.

Bedtime Stories originates from the QR-coded Embroidery. The values of craft have been brought to work with industry partners. Skills and tools have extended to the ones of the collaborators. The individual exploration of QR-coded Embroidery has been replaced by a teamwork to build Bedtime Stories.



Tender is a garment that exhibits a structural knit textile that incorporates programmable microchips in each pocket integrated into the material. It can be programmed to react on different inputs, perform a range of actions and give desirable output. Touch sensitive garment is one of many possible applications of the developed textile.

Tender is a garment that reacts to stroking. It lights up separate pockets on the body according to how they have been in contact with the skin. By stroking the garment it is possible to ‘move’ the lighted part of the wearable. It can be used to gather light around the neck, chest area for reading, and hands area for spotlight to find something in darkness or for all kind of other playful effects. Tender is a combination of structural knitting, electronics and conceptual fur-bubble inspired look. It suggests the soft light and personalised interaction to be the luxury of today.

Project realised by: Kristi Kuusk, Martijn ten Bhömer, Paula Kassenaar (TU/e), TextielMuseum TextielLab Tilburg and Metatronics.

Photo credits – Photography: Hanneke Wetzer & Bas Berends (Studio HUID & HAAR); Hair & Make-up: Jaimy Bontenbal; Model: Malou Verheijen

Unlace by Eef

Project by my first student within TechCrafts combining crafts with technology!

Unlace – from craft to concept from Eef Lubbers on Vimeo.

The Unlace is an interactive lace lingerie garment which allows partners to connect by becoming more aware of touch, time and warmth.  The man’s touch on the woman is sensed by the garment, after which the surrounding threads slowly heat up and change from black to skin color, ‘undressing’ the woman and guiding the man’s hand to another spot to touch. The slow change in ‘transparency’ and warmth increases awareness of touch and creates time to explore the woman’s body together.

The old craft of bobbin lace making was the inspiration for this project. By combining this technique with unconventional and smart materials, the Unlace was developed.


QR-coded Embroidery

The conceptual and, in some specific cases, the visual similarity between traditional craft items, such as winter mittens or Muhu skirt, and QR codes were the starting inspiration for the first explorations. Together with the possibility of keeping technology physically separated from the textile, the dynamic layer of digital technology seemed to play a significant role in moving smart textiles towards more sustainable direction. QR code can reveal a lot of information very similarly to a folkloric garment, accessory or ornament. Both of them also need a key to access that level of information.

QR-coded embroidery groups together a set of prototypes involving Quick Response codes embroidered onto textiles in order to relate the static durable textile with dynamic changeable digital world. While traditional quality-aimed technique, such as embroidery is long lasting and pleasant to touch, the digital layer connected to it provides an opportunity for the textile product to act in a service system to stay updated and change content throughout time. The first QR-coded embroidery prototype is a textile telling the story of the material’s whole life cycle – The Story of a Textile. The second prototype is a pillow showing fairy-tales – QR-coded Traditions. And the third one is a daily item sharing built up knowledge of a specific community – Local Wisdoms.

Photo credits: Photography:  Arttu Karvonen (PR fashion room) 2014; Model: Kertu; Kertu`s Dresses: MARI; Kertu`s accessories: New Vintage by Kriss

The Story of a Textile

In The Story of a Textile, scanning the QR code with a smartphone provides the user with visual and written information on the material: where is the raw material coming from, where and how is it treated and spun into yarns, how it was woven or knitted into textile, dyed, printed, sewn etc. The smart phone application can furthermore show the material and social traces of the production, use and disposal.  Allowing producers and users to grow and use a database of similar information makes the actual value of the textile more visible; showing the steps it has gone through as told by people who have been part of that journey.

The QR code embroidered on top of a textile can be scanned with any freely available QR scaning software. The application needs internet connection to open the resulting website in the smartphone browser. The website can be updated constantly, or can receive information straight from producers, suppliers, users via defined protocols.

QR-coded Traditions

QR-coded traditions is a set of pillows embedded with embroidered folkloric QR codes that when scanned start showing a video fairy-tale. The fairy-tale originates from the same region as the patterns and colours used as an inspiration in the embroidery design. The garment can become more valuable in time because of the opportunity to change the information referred by the QR code. The concept aims to connect traditions and history through several layers, while encouraging new ways of interaction. The textile is connected to the technology through the visual-meaning-location-story layers.

The QR code embroidered on top of a textile can be scanned with any freely available QR scaning software. The application needs internet connection to open the resulting website with the video in the smartphone browser. The website can be updated constantly, therefore it can show different fairytales in different times of the day, months of the year etc.

Local Wisdoms

Local Wisdoms is a groceries bag or a home textile, embroidered with QR codes inspired by folkloric patterns. The QR codes link the user to sayings, proverbs, and poems by people from the specific region the design of the code is inspired from. The wisdoms of poets, writers, philosophers, elderly neighbours, etc. is to be gathered by the children from the community. Such a garment becomes a link to an always-growing database making it more and more valuable through time.

The QR code embroidered on top of a textile can be scanned with any freely available QR scaning software. The application needs internet connection to open the resulting website in the smartphone browser. The website can be updated constantly, therefore the collection of the collected wisdoms can keep on growing. The user can be surprised with a new text, photo, voice or video clip every time.