Ideas to ponder

What do digital tools reveal to makers about their materials?

Led by Rachel Gotlieb with Joanna Berzowska, Garnet Hertz and Greg Sims

In this panel we ask about the variety of new relationships with materials that emerging with the increasing ubiquitousness of digital technologies. With the increased complexity of tools we wonder how do we learn about materials? How do we get to know them? How do we share this knowledge? We can now know the molecular structure of wood or metal without touching it. Is this a more intimate relationship than working directly with our hands? Does it matter? If the objects coming out of digital and mechanical processes are more removed from our handywork, how might they carry the mark of the machine? Should we be able to read the machine in the material?

Joanna Berzowska

Joanna Berzowska is Associate Professor of Design and Computation Arts Department at Concordia University in Montreal [] as well as the founder and research director of XS Labs [], a design research studio with a focus on innovation in the fields of electronic textiles and reactive garments. She is also the Head of Electronic Textiles at OMsignal [], a wearable and smart textile platform that enables leading fashion brands to design smart apparel.

A core component of her research involves the development of enabling methods, materials, and technologies, focusing on innovation in composite functional fibers, soft electronics, and additive manufacturing. Joanna’s art and design work has been shown in the V&A in London, the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum in NYC, the Millennium Museum in Beijing, the Art Directors Club in NYC, the Australian Museum in Sydney, NTT ICC in Tokyo, SIGGRAPH, ISEA, SIGCHI, and Ars Electronica Center in Linz among others. She holds a graduate degree from the MIT Media Lab. She lectures internationally about the field of electronic textiles and related social, cultural, aesthetic, and political issues. More info:

Rachel Gotlieb

Rachel Gotlieb is currently Adjunct Curator at the Gardiner Museum. She served as the founding Curator of the Design Exchange between 1990–2002, and co-wrote Design in Canada (Knopf Canada, 2001). She has curated and co-curated several important exhibitions, including: Pop: Design from the Space Age (Design Exchange 1994); Thor Hansen: Crafting a Canadian Style (Textile Museum of Canada, 2005), , and Beaver Tales: Canadian Art and Design (University of Toronto Art Centre, 2008). She has taught design history at Ryerson University School of Fashion, OCAD and Sheridan College. She created and implemented the Studio North and Prototype exhibits for Canadian artisans at the Toronto Interior Design Show, as well as conceived and directed its Conversations in Design annual symposium. She is a PhD candidate in Art History at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

Garnet Hertz

Dr. Garnet Hertz is Canada Research Chair in Design and Media Arts and is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Design and Dynamic Media at Emily Carr. His art and research explores themes of DIY culture and interdisciplinary art / design practices. He has shown his work at several notable international venues in thirteen countries including SIGGRAPH, Ars Electronica, and DEAF and was awarded the 2008 Oscar Signorini Award in robotic art. Hertz is founder of Dorkbot SoCal, a monthly Los Angeles-based lecture series on DIY culture, electronic art and design. He has worked at Art Center College of Design and University of California Irvine. His research is widely cited in academic publications, and popular press on his work has disseminated through 25 countries including The New York Times, Wired, The Washington Post, NPR, USA Today, NBC, CBS, TV Tokyo and CNN Headline News. More info:

Greg Sims

Greg Sims is an artist, designer and educator based in Toronto, Canada. He completed his undergraduate studies at OCAD University and later pursued postgraduate studies in England at the School of Jewellery- Birmingham City University. Since completing his MA degree in 2003, Sims has taught extensively at NSCAD University in Halifax and more recently at OCAD University. He teaches studio courses from Introductory to Master’s level, as well as developing curriculum and teaching courses in digital design and fabrication.