Loomia is an award-winning e-textiles manufacturer founded by Madison Maxey that has collaborated with companies such as Festo, Hyundai, and Analog Devices. Loomia’s core product is their patented LOOMIA Electronic Layer (LEL) which is an e-textile circuit that can perform where normal circuit boards can’t. Our relationship with Loomia started at the WEAR Conference in 2019. Maddy and Jeanette ended up at the same dinner and found common ground on all sorts of topics, design related and not . The two have stayed in touch ever since. We are continually blown away by her broad technical knowledge and grace under fire when challenged about that knowledge. We invited her to be a panelist on our Outsiders on the Inside event in February 2021 and she shared her incredible wisdom with our attendees (you can read more about the event here).
In addition to the LEL, Loomia also offers fantastic at-home prototyping kits where you can make all kinds of innovative products with heaters, pressure sensors, and much more. The kits range in complexity and are perfect for a designer or engineer of any level. (Learn more about their kits here.)
When our team first heard about the prototyping kits, we were immediately intrigued. Our engineers and designers couldn’t resist the chance to have some fun, so we decided to test one out. The kit we received contained a variety of parts including pressure sensors and matrixes, backlit buttons, buses, and heaters. These products created the perfect storm for designers and engineers alike to come up with endless ideas.
When the kits arrived in the studio we immediately started tinkering around and brainstorming. Our engineering team had a blast testing and learning about all the sensors, heaters, and lights. They quickly became experts and shared their knowledge with the whole team. With an understanding of all the parts, the team started to brainstorm. Designers and engineers worked side by side to come up with ideas for all sorts of projects. Ideas ranged from an epilepsy detector to a couch heater for your cat (like we said – anything was possible).
This sort of collaboration was one of Maddy’s goals for creating the kits. She notes that, “[when] building new products [there] is always this exciting tension between design and engineering. There’s a back and forth between what the electronics need and what the product design calls for. We loved sharing our prototyping parts with Loft because our electronic components come in different form factors than traditional electronic materials, making them work alongside the design process instead of against it.” Loft designers and engineers were excited to work with such adaptable and flexible parts which allowed for a seamless integration of form and function.
Over the years we’ve found that many relationships in the design and engineering world are highly transactional and primarily focused on bottom-line profit. This mentality puts a strong emphasis on the final product, which risks undervaluing the process of getting there. Maddy shares the mentality that design is truly a process, sharing, “I think that many don’t realize how iterative product development is. The first draft or the first idea of how the product will work is never the final result. That’s what makes the process so exciting.”
Our takeaway? Cross-functional interaction and brainstorming allows team members to grow and expand their knowledge and skills. Collaboration between interdisciplinary teams adds invaluable insights into the process and ultimately contributes to a better end product.