ABOUT

The KOBA is an electronic textile tailor shop where anybody can place an order for custom-made wearable technology garments and accessories.

KOBA is run by KOBAKANT (Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi). Both Hannah and Mika have been working in the field of eTextiles/wearable technology for more than 10 years as designers and artists. We try to approach technology with humor and craftsmanship rather than practicality and optimization.

KOBA is located in Kreuzberg, Berlin. If you have an idea for bespoke wearable technology that you want to wear, please visit us to place an order. If you like the idea, but not quite sure what you want exactly, we can also consult you to find out what we can do for you.

The shop is also equipped with physical examples, samples and catalogues. If you are curious to see what e-Textile embedded garments looks/feels like, please come see our collection items.

Our opening hours are on Fridays and Saturdays 13:00- 18:00.
If your schedule does not fit to the opening hours, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

KOBA is one year project. We will close at the end of September 2018. If you plan to visit us, please make sure to catch us before we close!

Location: Görlitzer Strasse 72 (Kreuzberg) 10997 Berlin, Germany
Contact: koba@kobakant.at
tel: +49 (0)176 86804943


Our Story

Earlier this year Mika and I decided that it is time for us to open an E-Textile Tailor Shop for Wearable Technology. We have been collaborating as KOBAKANT for over 10 years, realizing projects and maintaining our How To Get What You Want database of e-textile designs. Now we want to offer our skills and provide an alternative story about how technology can be made. Companies are working on industrializing production processes for e-textiles, and soon we will see wearable technology as a category in shops on every high-street. We’ve become so used to technology being something we purchase ready-made. You choose a brand, a style, a colour of plastic. But nobody asks you, given all the possibilities of technology, what would you like? We want to find out what people want e-textile and wearable technology to do for them by providing a place to come with your ideas. We will subsidize the work in our shop so that we can spend time developing custom solutions while keeping it affordable for as many people as possible.

The current name of the shop is KOBA Maßschneiderei. KOBA comes from Japanese, and we take it to mean a small family-run business, and Maßschneiderei is German for “tailor shop”. We will run the shop for one year and collect and document all that we make as open source designs as well as the stories of the people that commissioned them.


Background

Our interest in e-textiles and wearable technology has never been for the sake of designing products or manufacturing these. For us it has been an artistic medium, a storytelling tool for commenting on social, technological issues through artworks, performances, workshops. As part of our artistic process we’ve always open-sourced our designs and documented them on our website called How To Get What You Want.

E-textiles always felt like a futuristic technology to us, but this has changed. it is in the middle of becoming industrialized, this realization caused us to take a closer look at the reality of electronic textiles.

In 2011 we wrote up a paper titled Future Master craftsmanship: Where We Want Electronic Textile Crafts To Go that was presented at the International Symposium of Electronic Arts in Istanbul.

The following year, inspired by the ideas in that paper we realized a piece titled The Crying Dress. We speculated about a skilled-labor/craft-centric technological future, coming from our age of deskilling and labor exploitation especially in the electronics and textile sectors. The dress is funeral gown, a fictional commission set in a future of scarce resources, elaborately hand embroidered with circuitry that weeps in mourning along with the wearer, an example of highly skilled electronic craftsmanship.

Later that same year we organized a workshop titled Designing for the Loop in which we tried to apply LCA to gather information about the materials and processes we use in order to make more informed design decisions. Andreas Koehler co-organized the workshop, he was part of the LCAtoGo project specializing in the smart textiles part of their research.
The result of this workshop was a sense that because there are no straight forward yes/no, right/wrong answers, the designer feels lost amid a sea of conflicting, missing, uninterpretable information.

The following years we ran a series of workshops titled WishLab where the act of personalization as a means of making longer lasting connections with the technologies we make and use became the focus. In these workshops participants were trained to be “workers” in the WishLab factory, then tasked to interpret other people’s wishes as electronic gadgets and make these come true.

These excerpts from our works over the last years are what have lead us to the narrative of the KOBA Tailor Shop. a place where personalized wearable electronics are possible, a platform for discussion, experimentation and storytelling of alternative realities.