Despina Papadopoulos

I am a designer and researcher working at the intersection of embodied sensing systems and emerging materials and their relationship to meaning-making. I have engineered novel solutions for soft-to-hard interfaces, pioneered applications and processes for a stack of smart polymer technologies, and developed award-winning wearable environments that explore intimacy, ambiguity and markers of aliveness in encounters with technological systems.

I have collaborated and developed projects with Lubrizol, Nivea, Ralph Lauren, Bless, and with engineers, fashion designers, quantum physicists, weavers, molecular engineers, and philosophers. I consult C-suite executives on innovation methodologies, business opportunities in emerging technologies, and new product introduction roadmaps.

I have been teaching at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program for the past 18 years, where I developed the course and upcoming book The Softness of Things: Technology in Space and Form and I am founding faculty at SVA’s MFA on Design for Social Innovation.

I am currently working on The Unruliness of Matter, turning the conceptual and the abstract into the tangible and sensory, as part of my practice-based research Ph.D. at the Royal College of Art, on a TECHNE Fellowship from the National Productivity and Innovation Fund, UK.

Selected Talks

For speaking engagements

The Unruliness of Matter, keynote speaker, Design Meets Technology, Jerusalem, June 13, 2019

Artificial Intelligence and Material Innovation, keynote speaker, Re:Think Materials, Amsterdam, November 7, 2018

Embodied Interaction: Ethics and Shaping Connections, invited speaker, Wear-It, Berlin, June 29, 2018

Experiments in e-textiles, invited speaker, Wearable US, IDTechEx, Santa Clara, November 15, 2017

Connecting the Dots:  Open Innovation and e-textile Interconnects, invited speaker, Wearable 2017, San Francisco, June 14, 2017

What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Climate Change? workshop, Libera Università di Lingue e Comunicazione, Milan, March 2017

Design and Materiality Across Practices lecture, College for Creative Studies, Detroit, March 2017

Innovations for the Future invited speaker, USA Sourcing Summit, Cotton Council International and Cotton Inc., Nov. 11, 2016

From Thinking to Making: Weaving Technology in Everyday Life TEDx, Vilnius, April 2, 2016 

Smart Fabrics Summit organized by the US Chamber of commerce, panelist, Washington DC, April 11, 2016

Wearable Technologies, e-textiles: Opportunities and Challenges in the Fashion/Apparel Industry invited speaker, Product Innovation in Apparel, June 27 2017

The Future of Textiles panel lead, Trailblazers Conference, NY, November 13, 2015

Wearable Technologies and e-textiles: Connecting the Dots invited speaker, SPESA Executive Conference, Miami, November 5, 2015

The New Tech/Smart Textile Movement panelist, MAGIC Show, Las Vegas, August 16, 2015

Wearable Technology: An Idea Whose Time Has Come? group discussion lead at Product Innovation in Apparel, NY, June 22, 2015

Fashion, Function and Being Human invited speaker at Wearable Technology: Adoption and Monetization Summit, SF, April 22, 2015

Wearable Environments: Sense and Non-Sense invited speaker at Zero Power Smart Fashion, organized by swissnex, NY, September 10, 2014

From Thinking to Making and Back Again invited speaker at Wearable Futures, London, December 10-11, 2014 


2084, Dyson Gallery, London, January 2020

Designing Machines Holon, Israel, October 14 – January 1, 2011 

Craftwerk 2.0 Jonkoping, Sweden, September 19, 2009 – March 2010

100% Design Tokyo, Japan, October 30 – November 2008

Neoteric Matter: New Studio Jewelry, Foundation of the Arts & Sciences New Jersey, US, August 1 – September 15, 2008

Sartorial Flux, A+D Gallery Chicago, US, September 7 – October 21, 2006

The First Andros International Andros, Greece, July 2006

Light into Life, Gwangju Design Biennale Gwangju, Korea, October 18 – November 3, 2005

Pattern Language: Clothing as Communicator, Tufts University Art Gallery Boston, US, traveling summer 2005-winter 2008

Unravel SIGGRAPH 2006 Fashion Show, Boston, US, July 31, 2006

Touch Me Victoria & Albert Museum, London, UK, June 16 – August 29, 2005

How Smart Are You Dressed Tomorrow? NEMO Museum of Science, Amsterdam, NL, November 8, 2004 (catalogue)

Temporary Tattoo Interval Research Corporation Gallery, Palo Alto, US, April 4 – May 1997

Dig it: The Next Generation Group Exhibition, Limn Gallery, San Francisco, US, January 1997

Can you Dig it? in collaboration with Gerard Lynn
, Group Exhibition, Postmasters Gallery, New York, US, March 1996

Space Odyssey Group Exhibition, Eleni Koroneou Gallery, Athens, Greece, October 1995

Published Articles

“Trust is the New Empathy,” Quartz Magazine, February 15, 2018 

“What I learned from Dot: Design for All of Us,” Adjacent, the ITP & IMA Journal of Emerging Media 

“Future scenarios: ethical and speculative implications of embodied materialities,” chapter in Wearable Computers and Augmented Reality, CRC Press, 2015

“Concept Development and Interaction Design for Wearable Systems,” Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, published by the Hong Kong Institution of Textile and Apparel, vol. 14, no. 4 2010

“Bodies in Space and Time”, Keho, Centre for Interaction Design, Napier University, Edinburgh, UK: May 2008

“Wearable Technologies, Portable Architectures and the Vicissitudes of the Space Between,” AD Magazine, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., 2007

“Desiring Technologies Case Studies in the Coming of Being of Wearable Technologies,” proceedings of the Wearable Futures Conference, organized by the University of Wales, Newport, September 2005

“1000 (little tips of communication),” co-written with Usman Haque proceedings of the Wearable Futures Conference, organized by the University of Wales, Newport, September 2005

“Interface Me: Pursuing Sociability through Personal Devices,” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing, UK: Springer-Verlag, Volume 5, Issue 3, August 2001

“Wearable Computing: the M-Bracelet,” What + If, The Research Journal of the NCR Knowledge Lab, UK: Autumn 1999

Selected Bibliography

Make: Wearable Electronics: Design, prototype, and wear your own interactive garments by Kate Hartman, Maker Media, 2014

Textile Messages: Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education by Leah Buechley, Peter Lang International Academic Publishers, 2013

Textile Visionaries: Innovation and Sustainability in Textile Design by Bradley Quinn, Laurence King Publishing, 2013

The Handbook of Fashion Studies edited by Amy de la Haye, Regina Root et al., Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013

Fashionable Technology: The Intersection of Design, Fashion, Science, and Technology by Sabine Seymour, Springer Verlaag, 2010

Functional Aesthetics by Sabine Seymour, Springer Verlaag, 2010

Future Fashion. El futuro de la moda by Macarena San Martin, Promopress, 2010

Fashionable Technology by Sabine Seymour, Springer Verlaag, 2008

WWD (Women’s Wear Daily) April 2, 2008 and January 10, 2007

Fashion and Accessories ArtEZ Press, TERRA, June 2007

I.D. 40: Celebrating the Collective January 2007

Fashioning the Future: Tomorrow’s Wardrobe by Suzanne Lee, Thames & Hudson, 2005