What are Soft Goods?

In our AMA (Ask Me Anything) series, industrial designer Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman answers questions about design and process from Instagram and LinkedIn. Rebeccah is the founder of and principal designer at Interwoven Design Group, a design consultancy in Brooklyn, NY. She has over 25 years of design experience and has held positions as Design Director for Fila, Champion and Nike. She is the author of Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabrics, and speaks internationally on design and innovation. In this issue she answers the question, what are soft goods?

Watch the video or read the transcript below for Rebeccah’s definition of an industrial designer, then check out our Insight article on this topic for a more in-depth explanation.

What are soft goods?

Hi, I’m Rebeccah from Interwoven Design Group. I’m back again for another Ask Me Anything. Today’s question is, what are soft goods? So soft goods are basically products that are made with textiles. They’re smushy and soft, and they can be anything from outdoor gear to a backpack to stuffed animals or furniture. What we do at Interwoven is wearable technology, products that are worn on the body. 

If you’re curious about what we do, you can get in touch, we’d love to hear from you. Follow us on Instagram or come to our website, getinterwoven.com.

Still curious?

Soft goods are a specific subcategory in the design industry that includes products made with primarily but not exclusively non-rigid (soft) materials. It is a major category that makes up a significant part of the US consumer market and is driven by innovation, form, and aesthetics. Please check out our article on soft goods design to understand this topic further.

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What is Wearable Technology?

Design is a broad, complex industry that isn’t well understood in mainstream culture. Industrial design, our specialty, is especially vast. In our new AMA (Ask Me Anything) series, industrial designer Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman answers questions about design and process from Instagram and LinkedIn. Do you have any questions about design? Let us know!

Rebeccah is the founder of Interwoven Design Group (that’s us!), an interdisciplinary design consulting practice that creates innovative, thoughtful and efficient products. She has over 25 years of corporate design experience and has held positions as Design Director for Fila, Champion and Nike. She is the author of Smart Textiles for Designers: Inventing the Future of Fabrics, is one of the founding partners of Space Exploration Architecture (SEArch+), and speaks internationally on design, innovation and the future.

Watch the video or read the transcript below for Rebeccah’s definition of wearable technology.

What is wearable technology?

Hi, I’m Rebeccah from Interwoven Design Group, and today you can ask me anything. The question that we’re going to work on today is: What exactly is wearable technology? 

Wearable technology is basically anything that you wear on your body that’s not necessarily clothing. It could be anything from your glasses to your smartwatch to something that’s going to help you improve your performance. I call it designing a superpower. 

If you’re curious about what we do here at Interwoven, you can get in touch. We’d love to hear from you. You can follow us on Instagram @interwoven_design or you can go to our website at getinterwoven.com.

Want to know more?

Here at Interwoven Design our design niche is the intersection of soft goods and wearable technology. We explained what soft goods design is, and you can check out our Insight article on wearable technology to learn more about that aspect of our work.

Sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for design news, multi-media recommendations, and to learn more about product design and development!

Women in Industrial Design

Cultivating A Community That Supports Women in Industrial Design

Industrial design is a male-dominated field. The statistics don’t lie; only 19% of all industrial designers identify as female. This is a problem that has far-reaching repercussions, affecting everyone from budding designers to active professionals to the consumers using our products. Having an unequal playing field isn’t good for anyone, and frankly, it’s bad for business. Studies have shown that improving gender equality has positive impacts just about everywhere, improving everything from GDP to job growth to working conditions.

Just 19% of industrial designers identify as female. Via zippia
Women earn 89 cents for every $1 earned by men. Via zippia

Women as Design Leaders

At Interwoven Design, we’re working hard to change things. One of our main goals is to support women in design leadership. Although the number of women in design education and in academia has been growing over the past century, the percentage of women in leadership roles remains small. Across all industries, only 39% of executive roles are held by women, and a shocking 1% of all creative agencies are founded by women. These statistics speak to a larger problem of women being under represented in leadership roles, which has a critical impact on not only the products we are designing, but the world we are designing in.

The Interwoven Design team works on a project in the studio.

Having more women in design and design leadership roles is not just a theoretical concept; it results in tangible, on-the-ground product design solutions. Take our HeroWear Apex exosuit as an example. While conducting initial research for it, our team noticed a lack of warehouse equipment designed with women’s bodies in mind. Today, the Apex exosuit is considered a breakthrough wearable technology product: the world’s first exosuit specifically designed with a fit for everyone. The contoured straps and modular components offer multiple opportunities to customize the suits for both the female and male bodies.

a woman lifts a box in the Apex Exosuit
A female worker wearing the HeroWear Apex Exosuit by Interwoven Design lifts a box.
The Apex Exosuit is the first of its kind to be designed for all body types, including female body types.

Fostering Healthy Environments

Promoting women in leadership roles is a key part of cultivating a healthy community of designers. Lack of mentorship and unsupportive learning or working environments are two major reasons why women are underrepresented as professional designers. A recent study observed differences in communication styles between male- and female-dominant groups, and found that male-dominant groups resulted in less collaboration and cooperative sketching than groups that were either equally mixed-gender or female-dominant. Furthermore, countless female designers have stories of textbook gender discrimination: being treated differently than their male peers, standing by while their less-qualified male counterparts were promoted or given raises, experiencing aggression or sexual harassment from management. Toxic and unsupportive environments that foster these kinds of behavior eventually lead to women being pushed out, changing jobs, or changing careers altogether.

“When design teams are diverse, they call for vast spheres of influences and life experiences.” 

Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman discusses a project with her team at the Interwoven studio.

Interwoven uses every resource available to make industrial design a better, safer place for women. Interwoven’s founder, Rebeccah Pailes-Friedman, was recently elected to the position of Northeastern District Representative for the Industrial Designer’s Society of America (IDSA), as part of their Women in Design Committee. This committee makes it their number one priority to support, mentor, and encourage participation among women industrial designers.

Interwoven makes an active effort to diversify our workplace and cultivate collaboration. Starting from the ground up, we are working hard to change the male-dominated paradigm and promote women at every level in design. Come meet our team! If you haven’t already, check out Part One of our Women in Design series and follow us on Instagram for design news, multi-media recommendations, and to learn more about product design and development!