It is not only in the electric cars of tomorrow that the interiors are set to become feel-good zones with a host of different innovative features. Designers now have, at their disposal, new kinds of textiles and fibre-based lightweight composites that emit light and heat, conduct electricity and even have sensory capabilities. These developments – some of them still ‘hot from the laboratory’ – are meeting with interest from manufacturers of cars, lorries and buses alike. Often still in the research phase and, hence, hardly beyond the prototype stage, never mind in regular production and available for the mass market, they recommend themselves for applications in air, rail and sea travel because of their fantastically useful properties.
Since the automotive and air-travel industries, in particular, are drivers of textile technologies, appropriate new developments will soon also be finding their way into representative offices, banks and not a few homes too: textile elements with alternate positive mood lighting, entrances to buildings with luminescent textile signs, curtains and woven wall components with lighting and air-conditioning functions.
Techtextil 2013 to showcase scenarios of the future
Although the automobile industry hardly ever shows its hand – in this case, the interior equipment of tomorrow – before model launches, the corresponding trends for interiors will already be clear in outline at the next Techtextil from 11 to 13 June 2013 in Frankfurt am Main. At the same time, research projects, workshops and communiqués from textile and leather research institutes centrally involved with ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ textiles, point in the direction of possible future scenarios for car cockpits. These also include, amongst others, Techtextil exhibitors such as The Textile Research Institute Thuringia-Vogtland (Textilforschungsinstitut Thüringen-Vogtland – TITV) from Greiz, The Institute for Textile and Process Technology (Institut für Textil- und Verfahrenstechnik – ITV) in Denkendorf near Stuttgart and the Research Institute for Leather and Plastic Sheeting (Forschungsinstitut für Leder und Kunststoffbahnen – FILK), based in Freiberg/Saxony.
What can car drivers and other users expect to find between car carpets and headlinings over the next few years? Certainly a great deal of ergonomics, using sustainable and naturally effective materials and tactile surfaces that make it possible to create individuality of design in cars as well as elsewhere. The key focus here: cockpit lighting, adjustable mood lighting and touchpads for the driver, all tailored to the customers wishes. Korean manufacturers, Kia, have already risked a first step in the direction of light-emitting textiles in their city car ‘Soul’. In two versions of the model, a luminescent (unpowered, light-emitting) inscription with the word ‘Soul’ has been woven into the upper part of the seat back.