This project was a collaborative, design-led research project between Kyoto Design Lab (D-Lab) and the Department of Advanced Fibro Science, Kyoto Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Royal College of Art’s Textiles Programme (RCA). The project involved an initial one-week workshop, followed by a 6-month research associateship within KIT’s D-Lab – an innovation incubator delivered through practical design methodologies and interdisciplinary collaboration. The work designed and produced during the research associateship was exhibited in London and Tokyo.


The focus of this project was to investigate the possibility of re-engineering Chirimen, a traditional ‘intelligent’ silk fabric being woven in the Tango Peninsula, in northern Kyoto Prefecture. Varying the weave structure itself and the introduction of PTT, a thermoplastic polymer, enabled the creation of a hybrid textile of silk, which is hydrophilic and Polytrimethylene terephthalate (PTT), which is hydrophobic. This hybrid textile's structure offered new product applications for Chirimen silk within the healthcare context against a background of industry decline and shrinking markets for this highly sophisticated textile.

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© John McNair