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Balancing aesthetics and performance in technical textiles

Textiles can be beautiful and stylish but can also be high-performance products playing an increasingly vital role in many areas of industry.

24th April 2018

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Huddersfield

Sports/​Outdoor, Protective, Industrial, Clothing/​Footwear, Transport/​Aerospace

At the University of Huddersfield, senior lecturer and Department Lead for Teaching and Learning Nicola Redmore is one of the teaching staff determined to ensure that the aesthetic and the technical aspects of textile design and production are given equal weight. And for the past two years she has held a public post as the President of the Huddersfield Textile Society that has enabled her to advance this agenda.

She has served as President of the Huddersfield Textile Society, founded in 1903, and brought to the role her experience not only as an academic, but as a former textile designer in the automotive industry, developing high performance fabrics for vehicle interiors.

Nicola Redmore. © University of Huddersfield

“So as president of the society I was very keen to bring in a programme, which focussed on promoting the balance between design and the technical expectations of textiles,” said Nicola, adding that she also sought to ensure that the potential and excellence of Huddersfield’s long-established textile industry was fully appreciated.

“It is still very strong and vibrant. We are lucky to be in an area where we have got really good, high quality, luxury fabrics being produced for apparel.” But there were also companies working the field of technical textiles, utilising developments, such as plasma finishing, weaving and the carbon fibres, added Nicola.

Textiles can be beautiful and stylish but can also be high-performance products playing an increasingly vital role in many areas of industry. The development of weaving technology meant that looms can now be used to produce carbon fibre components for the aerospace industry or for use in construction projects.

What Nicola calls “the marriage between textile product development and the aesthetic element” is an important aspect of teaching and research in the University of Huddersfield’s Department of Fashion and Textiles. Its head, Professor Parikshit Goswami, has also stressed the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration.

Nicola teaches on the textile practice degree course, which specialises in weaving – also a traditional strength of local industry. There is a strong emphasis on technical textiles, including the use carbon fibre, weaving advances and plasma finishing, and the department has invested in a fully-equipped textile testing lab.

Her role as a committee member and then President of Huddersfield Textile Society – now nearing the close of her two-year term – has helped to create strong and valuable links between local business and University students. “The Society has also been developing its educational role by bringing new knowledge into the local textile industry,” added Nicola.

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