Our research strategy

The following is a brief synopsis of the Textile and Design Lab's Research Strategy for 2019-2021


Due to globalisation, environmental impacts and technological changes, the textile industry is undergoing rapid transformation. While New Zealand’s local textile industry is much diminished, with most raw fibre materials exported for overseas manufacturing and local needs largely met by the importation of finished textiles and clothing, there are significant issues and opportunities that demand further consideration.  Examples of such opportunities for further inquiry include the problem of textile waste at both pre and post-consumer stages; new material and technology developments and the potential for textile applications outside the apparel industry, such as textiles for the environment, architecture and well-being.

The TDL research strategy recognises these profound shifts and the opportunities for innovation, knowledge discovery and the potential value creation that they present.  The research programme will build from a base of technical and aesthetic knowledge, the advanced textile technology platforms and design capacity developed through the TDL and the diverse disciplinary perspectives, expertise and opportunities for collaboration opened up through the TDL’s network of research associates at AUT, external institutions and industry partners. These include engineers, materials scientists, health and sports scientists, ecologists, designers, textile scientists, architects, business studies and material anthropology specialists.

Over the next three years we will consolidate current research and extend into new areas of investigation and application. We recognize the unique potential for textiles as a dynamic field of interdisciplinary, technological and creative inquiry, and the unique opportunities for developing new materials, innovative applications using textiles and creating value in New Zealand.  AUT is uniquely positioned to establish a stronger national research profile using textiles as a basis for materials research, design and technology innovation and new areas of application employing both scientific and artistic approaches.


TDL research will engage across three inter-related themes:

1.Materiality: Investigating and exploiting the distinctive scales of textiles, from micro to macro levels, as polymers, yarns, configurations, surfaces and forms.  Research will involve the utilization of new materials, new technological and methodological approaches to inform the making, behaviour, use, sustainability, representation and value of textiles.  It will include projects focused on the modeling of textile behavior and the use of both physical and digital processes.

2. Intra-action: Exploring and developing greater understanding of the performance, agency and interaction with textiles and the development of new textile systems.  Areas of inquiry will include  textiles as an interface, embodied interaction, smart textiles, bio textiles, environmental textiles and sustainable textile systems.

3. Tectonics: The construction of textile form and aesthetics.  Research areas will include textile geometries, textile structures, and textiles as a third skin, the development of architectural and spatial textiles, new composite structures and non-garment application areas.


The TDL research program aims to:

  1. Identify new areas and opportunities for textile application
  2. Investigate new materials, processes and production technologies
  3. Develop new textiles and innovative textile applications
  4. Build a strong, productive interdisciplinary textile research community
  5. Establish ongoing international partnerships
  6. Secure multiple funding sources
  7. Develop theoretical and applied knowledge
  8. Contribute value to NZ through design, application and knowledge sharing
  9. Increase outputs and knowledge dissemination
  10. Be a sustainable and acknowledged centre of excellence

Need help with a project?

If you have a project you think we can help with, contact Peter Heslop, TDL manager, to arrange a project development and planning meeting.

Peter Heslop
Tel: +64 9 921 9999 ext 6222
Email: peter.heslop@aut.ac.nz

Funding applications

As long as your R&D project meets certain criteria, funding from government and other streams is often available. AUT has staff who specialise in commercial research, intellectual property issues, funding streams and application processes who are happy to discuss your projects.

Contact us for more information.