Making Futures 2021

Re-crafting the Local-Global Maker Relationship

The seventh edition of our Making Futures biennial international research conference will be held on 16th September 2021.

Josie Steed

Josie Steed, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, AB10 7QD email:

From Augmented to Authentic - Weaving the Past into the Future: An investigation of immersive technologies within Scottish textile craft practices towards new sustainable futures within an increasing digitally and globally driven economy.

The craft market in the UK is expanding and diversifying where a recent Craft Council report ‘The Market for Craft’ identified a new generation of craft consumers that drives a change in patterns of consumption away from mass-production. This new appreciation is significant. Economically in the UK craft sales have increased from £883m in 2006 to over £3bn in 2019 (Craft Council, 2020). In addition, craft can help to generate sustainable, domestic economies at the same time as reaching broader international markets. The growth in the public’s desire for authenticity, for experiences, for ethical and sustainable consumption has helped fuel an interest in making and in handmade objects. Craft has also been strongly impacted by the rise of new routes to market and digital selling platforms creating more routes to market for makers. However, in Scotland, a high number of micro and independent textile craft businesses work in remote locations (Highlands & Islands) and rely heavily on physical interactions with their customers, often tourists, to generate sales. As the tourist market collapsed during the Covid-19 lockdown, rurally based craft makers described entering a period of “3 long winters”.

This paper discusses a current multidisciplinary knowledge exchange research project across computing and textiles that explores the opportunities in Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) to be integrated and used creatively within Scottish textile craft businesses. The project team are working together with micro and small businesses within the Scottish remote islands of Harris, Orkney and Shetland with the aim of establishing long-term and sustainable research partnerships exploring opportunities with immersive technologies. Research so far indicates that makers could benefit from developing technological confidence to promote their work through immersive technologies that can be both a creative codesign tool while also conveying the experiential nature of craft making evoking their embedded physical and emotional qualities together with rich storytelling of their place-based making to global audiences.


Josie Steed is a Senior Lecturer in Design at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University. Her research interests explore glocal design-led innovation and immersive technologies in contemporary society and the value and status of textile craft making both within Scotland and China. Josie leads the School on Sustainability and Knowledge Exchange currently working on several cross-disciplinary and knowledge exchange funded projects including Augmented Fashion and Immersive Scotland and a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Harris Tweed Hebrides. She has produced a number of peer-reviewed publications within smart textiles, digital craft textiles and design-led innovation.