DAKAR, SENEGAL — In a residential area of central Dakar, a group of 20 tailors, textile workers, stylists, coders and graphic designers came together to workshop at Kër Thiossane, an art and multimedia creative space, and learn about the link between innovative electronics and textile design.

During the 15 day, 3-part workshop, participants were provided new, digital tools to unlock their imaginations and discover another side to their craft. In part 1, participants were asked to think how the incorporation of electronic lights, sounds, or even  GPS sensors could bring their textile designs to another level. Next, they learned to create a new range of innovative textile products, including radio capable pillow prototypes, light sensor clothing, and more.

We always try to incorporate technology into culture. Even a programmer can use methodologies of an artist. — Koffi Dodji Honou, Organizer at Kër Thiossane

Part 2 of the workshop promoted design mapping, using software called, Processing. Participants were asked to create a digital pattern, then use it to manufacture a quilt, outfit, or another textile product.

Workshop participants show pattern created using digital software

Workshop participants show pattern created using digital software

Engineer and manager at Kër Thiossane, Modou N’gam specializes in the electronics side of the workshop. He said no matter what skill level someone may have on a digital platform, everyone is able to take something away from their workshops. “You see here after just one week, everyone has been able to create something. Which shows that even as a beginner its not too difficult.”

“I learned a lot, and had never used Processing before, so it really helped to map out a design and then create it. I mean it’s what I do, just normally by hand,” said costume designer Nawelle Aïnèche.

The last day of the workshop ended with part 3 of the program, community outreach. Workshop organizers and participants came together to clean up parts of the area near Kër Thiossane before they put on a fashion show in the community square.

The fashion show gave workshop participants the opportunity to present an array of innovative paper prototypes and inspiring new fashion designs to the delight of the community who came out to show their support.

Workshop participant and costume designer Nawelle Aïnèche creates a hat prototype designed on Processing.

Workshop participant and costume designer Nawelle Aïnèche creates a hat prototype.

A model wears a hat designed by Nawelle Aïnèche for the show

A model wears a hat designed by Nawelle Aïnèche for the show

Community members watch in awe during the fashion show.

Community members watch models show off fashions designed at the workshop during the show.