Inside Outside | Petra Blaisse and TextielLab collaborate on a knitted solar curtain

Two Netherlands-based organisations are on the frontier of energy-harvesting textile design.

Dutch designer Petra Blaisse is the founder of Inside Outside | Petra Blaisse design studio and is well known for incorporating textural materials into architectural designs. During the 80s and 90s, her curtain installations at the Nederlands Dance Theater, Lille Grand Palais and the Kunsthal in Rotterdam ignited a whole new conversation surrounding textile design’s place in architecture.

The textile industry has seen major advancements in smart textiles that combine design, science and technology, making it the perfect time for Blaisse to fulfil her dream of solar-enhanced textiles.

In collaboration with TextielLab, based in the Netherlands’ city of Tilburg, Inside Outside | Petra Blaisse has recently designed a woven solar curtain. At the start of the project, the team needed the assistance of solar cell specialists, Solar Fiber, who helped them understand the technical aspects of working with the conductive material, copper wire.

The next step of the process was finding the right type of knitted fabric, which would hold the copper inserts in place. High-stretch weaves would not work with the weight of the wire, but the team managed to source a fabric that would be able to support the structure and also offer the right amount of flexibility for the solar cells.

Knitting informed the design and resulted in a texturally rich curtain, interwoven with a dynamic combination of a mineral and an organic textile. The solar cells woven into the curtain further contribute to the texture of the overall design – a one metre long panel of flexible fabric that is able to convert sunlight into energy.