Relax Shirt

The Nurture Room: Interview with Pauline van Dongen


During the previous edition of MUNICH FABRIC START, you presented the Smart Textile Pop-up Lab at the KEYHOUSE. What was it all about?

The aim of this Pop-up Lab was to familiarize people with smart textiles, and in particular those created by printed electronics. Through my work at Holst Centre (a leading Dutch R&D centre), I see the potential of printed electronics for the textile industry. These printed electronics are thin and stretchable and the printing process allows for a modular design approach. Moreover, they are made using familiar processes, namely through screen-printing conductive inks on flexible substrates like TPU and then heat bonding these smart “trims” onto textile. Visitors of the Pop-up Lab could see this process up close to better understand it and be inspired by the possibilities.

This time, visitors of the fair can book a (free) session in “The Nurture Room”. View the timetable and register here.

What will they experience there?

After having successfully shown the process of printing electronics and their integration in textiles, it is time for the next step. The Nurture Room is a space to reflect and to meet likeminded people who share a wish to do things differently within the fashion industry. It invites open dialogues addressing the urgency to create new relationships between humans and the clothing they wear.

The aim of the sessions at The Nurture Room is to not only inspire participants, but to ensure that they can follow up their inspiration with concrete actions once back in the office. You will be guided through the session by wearable technology experts: Pauline van Dongen and Marina Toeters. By booking a session on a particular topic, such as workwear, outdoor clothing or casual wear, you can tap into a wealth of knowledge and simultaneously help shape the direction of developments in the field of wearables.

The sessions are meant to connect companies covering the full value chain, in order to collectively contribute to new product developments. Together, we will discuss ways to embed technologies into clothing in ways that can nurture people and improve their wellbeing. Visitors will be able to encounter the latest developments that fall within this scope, such as MYSA 2.0: a “relax shirt” that guides the wearer through breathing exercises that can be felt through subtle vibrations along the spine.

By Pauline van Dongen, sold via publisher “ArtEZ Press”

Can you tell us a bit more about your own research and how the idea of The Nurture Room relates to it?
In my own research, I focus on the way clothing mediates between our bodies and the world. Our clothes shape how we relate to the world, they actively shape our perceptions and our actions. I look at how we can strengthen our relationship and emotional bond with clothing and, by wearing clothing, with others and with the environment. When our clothes become active and responsive, how will this affect the human-garment relationship for example? My research shows that when we create wearables, we need to take into account the full set of experiential qualities of the garment, and not just the functionality of the technology. I extensively describe this approach in my recent book “A Designer’s Material-Aesthetics Reflections on Fashion and Technology”. It also includes practical guidance for designers and engineers who wish to develop wearables.

As a designer working between the fields of fashion design, textile innovation and technology, I understand these different worlds and know how to connect them. I would like people entering this space to think very consciously about what they want to develop and for whom, what new values the product will bring to people and how they incorporate considerations relating to the well-being of the planet. This ambition is reflected in the concept of The Nurture Room.

Why did you call it “The Nurture Room”?

Nurture is care that is given to someone while they are growing and developing. The term reflects the care with which we should all treat industry. In the context of “nature vs nurture”, the word “nurture” describes the influence of learning and other influences from one’s environment. I experienced how many new things I had to learn when I made a turn to wearables. In wanting to change the system as well as my own position and attitude as a designer, I also noticed that I needed to shed some of the premises that formed the basis for my fashion education. This learning and unlearning are processes that not many people in the industry take the time for or get the time for. While new perspectives are so desperately needed right now. So, to help facilitate this, our main message is: “Come and nurture yourself, by expanding your knowledge in the area of wearable technology.”

Visit The Nurture Room at MUNICH FABRIC START on February 4-6 2020 in Munich, Keyhouse, Booth #34

Due to the limited number of places available for the free individual workshops, we kindly ask you to register by mail to Chantal Gräff at


Tuesday, 4th February
11.00 – 11.45 am: sports & activewear
14.00 – 14.45 pm: wool & tailoring

Wednesday, 5th February
11.00 – 11.45 am: workwear
14.00 – 14.45 pm: intimates
16.00 – 16.45 pm: outdoor

Thursday, 6th February
12.00 – 12.45 pm: casualwear