It all started as a wish, looking at the magical playa sunrise – a desire to create an experience cherished and a space for shading and gathering. When I wandered Waking Dreams last year, I found myself mesmerized by Burning Man’s majestic structural artifacts, especially those that included textiles, such as inflatables and shed structures. In my point of view, fabric is the unique material that can fill the desert art landscape with fluidity, softness and a dynamic quality. They are an integral part of our daily lives and are helpful for human expression and existence. However, we often overlook and take them for granted, not understanding the complex materials, deep craftsmanship, and the various elements involved in their design and construction.

during a science talk Last year at The Phase in Black Rock City, I had the opportunity to present my research on new fabrics/functional textiles. Currently based in the MIT Media Lab, my work revolves around the fusion of functional fibers, sensor networks and digital knitting to develop wearable, interactive textiles spanning different scales from room-scale textiles to architecture Could As my presentation came to an end, I couldn’t help but share my aspiration to bring these captivating and interactive garments to Burning Man. I believe that an exciting opportunity exists to introduce innovative materials and technologies into the field of architectural clothing, as well as integrate them with intricate details and avenues for self-expression.

Little did I know that this dream would finally become a reality. Fast forward almost a year, and we are fortunate to have received a Black Rock City Honoria grant that allowed us to develop this approach at Burning Man. The journey since then has been nothing short of extraordinary, filled with constant challenges, limitless creativity, meaningful connections and fruitful collaborations.

“Living Knitwork Pavilion” rendering (photo courtesy of Ermandi Vicxano)

blending tradition and innovation

Coming from Indonesia, I was immersed in a culture rich in textile arts. It includes a diverse range of techniques, from traditional ikat and songket weaving to the artistry of batik wax-patterning and dyeing. The intricacy and beauty of these textiles have long fascinated me; I realized that creating such remarkable artwork requires immense skill, patience and imagination. These indigenous textiles are woven with beautiful organic designs and patterns. Some are believed to have magical powers and are designed to convey specific meaning and wishes. Often complemented by traditional ceremonies, rituals and music, these garments enhance a sense of community, identity and expression.

Based on my research vision and these influences, “Living Knitwork” emerges as an interactive textile shed structure, rooted in reverence for the artistry and wisdom found in ancient artifacts, particularly the textiles and temples of Indonesia . Balinese pura, which represent sacred places with stone carvings where communities gather and pray, served as an important inspiration. The “Living Knitwork” structure will stand as a spiritual sanctuary, inviting exploration and introspection. At the center of the “living knitwork” petal motifs is also the Javanese gunungan, a synonym for shadow-puppets that symbolize change in narratives. Within the patterns of the Gunungan lies a depiction of the cosmic balance between humanity and the mystical-magical realm. Finally, handwritten batik, characterized by its repetitive geometric motifs and flora-fauna designs, holds profound significance in the design of “living knitwork” textile patterns. These elements encompass a spectrum of meanings and aspirations – harmony, prosperity, growth, fertility and abundance, among others.

“Living Knitwork Pavilion”

“Living Knitwork Pavilion” An art, research and immersive experience installation that takes the form of a dodecagonal pyramid structure, which is 18 feet tall and 26 feet wide. It consists of 12 petal cloths, each individually designed with 90 cloth reliefs. These reliefs, inspired by temple carvings, are distributed parametrically across the woven mesh surface and depict 12 stories of the future world – a fusion of human-nature relationships, the built environment and the interplay between organic and synthetic beings . We set out to weave contemporary and traditional patterns and motifs into a knitwear petal tale ranging from bio-machine symbiosis, solarpunk cities to deep sea and space exploration.

12 “Living Knitwork” petals and detailed pattern (Photo courtesy of Ermandi Vicaxono)

The new approach of 3D-weaving, this time implemented in electronic and responsive textiles on an architectural scale, is an additive manufacturing process that begins with a collection of functional and common yarns as design primitives, including conductive, photochromic And glitter yarn is included. Each knitwork petal is carefully designed with lattice-like openings to allow light and air to pass through, pop-up tactile patterns to create textile relief, melt-yarn for the hardening or thermoforming process, and sailing rope and Custom channel and seam details for electrical cabling. The entire process enables the creation of custom multi-layer aesthetic-technical textiles with unique forms and textures and minimal waste. We take pride in incorporating recycled materials into this large scale textile art, with 60% of our yarn sourced from recycled plastic bottles. “Living Knitwear Pavilion” is also powered by “solar library, Generators on the playa and an effort to reduce noise through the use of renewable energy sources. We are excited to work on reducing the environmental impact of our production processes and existence at Playa.

The pavilion’s central structure is composed of a lattice gridshell network of timber elements designed to optimize structural integrity while minimizing material use. By stitching curves into the design, the gridshell’s organic forms blend seamlessly with the knitwork, adding a sense of fluidity and harmony to the entire pavilion. By day, the “Living Knitwork Pavilion” serves as a shading structure, providing a community space for introspection, meditation, and discovery. As the sun rises, the hidden-encrypted textile patterns are revealed through photochromism.

As dusk falls over the desert, the pavilion undergoes a metamorphosis, illuminating its surroundings in both an auditory and visual sense. Woven within the reticular petals are integrated a network of antennas made of conductive threads, which interact with each other and capture the electric field transmitted by the central structure. The electric-field-sensing principle is similar to that of the theremin musical instrument and can also be found in some species of fish, which perform electrolocation to navigate or feel objects or prey in their vicinity. The networked antennas constantly sense our movements as our bodies interact with or disrupt electric field distribution to drive an immersive audio and lighting network in real time. This exchange turns the pavilion into a sentient lantern; Our energy, presence and interactions will contribute to the overall vibrancy and atmosphere of the space, fostering moments of discovery, reflection and collective experience.

The core team and volunteers of “Living Knitwork” building the central structure and working on the fabric after treatment (Photo courtesy of Ermandi Vikaxano)

From Multidisciplinary Collective to Community Art

In the initial phase of this project, I formed a the collective With a shared vision of realizing the dream of “Living Knitwear Pavilion”. Our group is diverse and multicultural, including scientists, engineers, designers, and artists from the MIT Media Lab and the School of Architecture and Planning. We are committed to exploring the boundaries and intersection of art and technology, weaving engineering, scientific rigor and playfulness into the way we build the world of the future through interactive installations. The result is a collaboration that transcends disciplinary boundaries. “Living Network” Draws theory and methodology from fiber/textile arts, materials science, digital fabrication, sensing systems, architecture and structural engineering. This endeavor integrates advanced, tailored and functional textile skins into a structure where diverse elements such as program, pattern, geometry, human interaction, energy fields and interactive machines coexist harmoniously.

We recently had the opportunity to design and install the “Living Knitwork Pavilion” on the MIT Saxon Lawn in Cambridge, Massachusetts. This was such an intense and important moment for the team, as we designed all the knitwork petals, developed the hardware systems, and built the central structure from the ground up for the first time, and unveiled the pavilion before us for a few days. Shipping date to Black Rock City. As we built “Living Knitwork” it was an incredible and humbling experience to tackle each challenge and watch the pavilion slowly take shape. We were deeply touched by the support and enthusiasm of our peers, friends and family – as many hands were involved in making this community piece of art a reality. our effort None of this would be possible without the continued support of Burning Man Arts and the MIT Media Lab community. We would also like to express our heartfelt gratitude to fellow Fagelings and Berners across the globe who have not only become our friends and mentors but have also helped us in every possible way, making this complex journey incredibly fulfilling. To be.

Installation of the “Living Knitwork Pavilion” at MIT Saxon Lawn (Photo courtesy of Jimmy Day)

join and support us

As the project continues and we prepare for the departure of the “Living Knitwork Pavilion” for Black Rock City and building it out on Dusty Playa, we are still asking for support from all of you, the Burning Man community. we have launched our GiveButter Fundraising Page And would really appreciate your support. Please also share this project with your friends and family; All donations will contribute to the realization of the “Living Knitwear Pavilion” at Burning Man. These donations will be spent on covering expenses such as tool rental, build week infrastructure, anchoring, artwork transportation from Boston to Black Rock City and back, crew support and any additional fabric and hardware materials. We invite you to follow us instagram page For real-time updates and behind-the-scenes footage. If you are interested in helping in other ways or if you have ideas for a playa event or mutant vehicle link-up with the “Living Knitwear Pavilion”, please do not hesitate to email,

With the “Living Knitwork Pavilion”, we would like to exemplify the remarkable possibilities that arise when architecture, technology and the textile arts come together as we embrace the spirit of Burning Man. Through new materials, digital fabrication techniques and a deep appreciation for cultural symbolism, we invite all of you to take shelter, engage, interpret and become enveloped in a divine tapestry of light, color and textile wonders. We are really excited and we hope to feel your presence and interact with all of you in the dust soon!

Cover image courtesy of Ermandi Vicxano

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *