A woven solar fabric

weaving, solar, smart fabric, craft, social practices


Weaving solar into the everyday


Zonnestof is a new textile with flexible thin-film solar cells woven into it.

This material is developed from the idea that a solar textile, unlike the large and rigid solar panels on roofs and in the fields, could offer a much more physical and tactile way for people to interact with and relate to the sun and its energy. Also the flexibility and pliability of textiles promises a variety of applications including textile architecture, tents, canopies and curtains.

The sun connects everything that lives on our planet. In the pursuit of green energy, the sun becomes part of a technical system of solar panels and solar energy networks. The energy transition and deployment of large technical solar systems required for this, is essential for the well-being and future of our planet. But in addition to this, we believe that it is vital to also deal with the sun in more tangible and cultural ways; using everyday products, interactions and interventions that nurture and develop the human dimension.

Together with artist and weaving expert Maaike Gottschal (Textielfabrique) we’ve explored these ideas trough hand weaving and by using the making process as a way to promote social and cultural exchange with a focus on how the sun shapes daily practices and rituals.

Special thanks to the Creative Industry Fund, Solliance Solar Research and Gert van Heck for their invaluable support.

Solar energy woveninto daily life

Most solar technologies tend to be quite remote from humans, who do not physically interact with the panels on roofs and in the fields. The solar textile “zonnestof” is a form of “Solar Design”: by combining the solar cells with yarns and by playing with different weaving patterns and techniques, new aesthetic qualities and material properties are created. The material can be made in a variety of colors, textures, transparencies and thicknesses and is more flexible and pliable compared to large sheets of thin-film solar cells.

Participatory design process

Through “Zonnestof workshops”, initiated together with Bureau Ruimtekoers, we invite people to weave a new future together. The accessible hand weaving process invites people to participate, to explore their dreams and wishes and to show the role solar energy can play in their daily lives. All participants become owners of the project through their contribution and thus become part of a larger movement.

At Pauline van Dongen we design and develop smart textiles and clothing in a holistic way. We believe in sharing our experiences and knowledge with others to jointly change the current fashion system that relies on unethical and unsustainable practices and causes devaluation of clothing.