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Plug Into the Charged World of Electronic Textiles

October 11, 2017

Maggie Orth is an artist, writer, and technologist who creates electronic textiles and interactive art at her studio in Seattle, WA. As an innovator, Maggie believes we can solve the complex problems facing today’s world through innovation, collaboration, and interdisciplinary thinking. Maggie develops her interactive art and design works through her company, International Fashion Machines, Inc. (IFM), where she focuses on developing the creative, technical, and commercial aspects of electronic textiles. At IFM, Maggie obtains patents, conducts research, and develops her own technology and design products, including the PomPom Dimmer. On Friday, October 26th, Maggie will give a public lecture and will launch an immersive weekend-long workshop of design thinking for students. We'll also host an exhibition of her work in the URBN Lobby. "Maggie is a perfect person to bring to Westphal with her diverse perspectives as an artist, a designer, innovative thinker, technologist, and a combined introspective practice of looking at the implications of design,"  Chris Baeza, Interim Program Director of Design & Merchandising, told us. Chris worked with Raja Schaar, Product Design Professor, to plan Maggies' visit.

In 2007, Maggie was named a USA Target Fellow by United States Artists, and received one of 50 unrestricted grants of $50,000 in recognition of her artistic work. Her art and design has been exhibited at the Museum of Science, Boston MA; NTT ICC, InterCommuncication Center, Japan; The National Textile Museum, Washington DC; The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; The DeCordova Museum, MA; SIGGRAPH; Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria; and The Museum de Design D’Arts Contemporains, Lausanne, Switzerland. Maggie holds a PhD in Media Arts and Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Lab. She also earned a Masters of Science from MIT's Center for Advanced Visual Studies, and a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design.

Beginning Friday, October 27, Maggie will lead a workshop open to Drexel students across campus. Over the next two days they'll be given readings, participate in discussion, and will work in groups to brainstorm ideas that consider both the positive and negatives of wearable technology, asking "how can products be critical". The following day, participants will work on the ideation and presentation of their products with a group presentation in the afternoon. Students studying courses outside of Westphal including those in engineering, material science, business, ethics, or liberal arts are truly welcome to attend. For more information and to attend, contact Raja Schaar at   

Maggie will deliver a talk on Thursday, October 26, The Ethics of Wearable Technology, which critically looks at the ethical implications of ideation and the influx of wearable technologies in contemporary culture. If you can't make her lecture, consider listening to Maggie's talk on the ethics of wearable technology at the Fifth Annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics here. You can also view Maggie's work in the URBN Annex beginning at 12PM on Thursday, October 26 and through Saturday, October 28 at 12PM.

Maggie's work has been featured in numerous books and publications including: Time Magazine; Wired; ID Magazine; Craft; The Seattle Time; Boston GlobeArt and Science Now by Steven Wilson; Warp and Weft by Jessica Hemmings; and International Design Yearbook, 2007. She also writes and conducts research on sustainability, design, and technology. Her writing has been included in: The Digital Turn, Design in the Era of Interactive Technologies, by Zane Bernina; and Textile Messages, Dispatches from the World of E-Textiles and Education, by Leah Buechley.

Lecture: Thurs. Oct. 26 // 6:30-7:30 // URBN Annex Screening Room

Weekend Workshop: Fri. Oct 27 (1-5PM) & Sat. Oct 28 (10-2PM) // URBN 125 & 144

Exhibition on view: in the URBN Annex, opening Thurs. Oct 26 at 12PM and through Sat. Oct 28 at 12PM