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Innovation Design Engineering (MA/MSC)

Bahareh Saboktakin

Growing up in Iran and having the opportunity to study, live, and work in Canada, set my mindset towards frugal innovation and addressing real-world issues.

Having worked as a Software Engineer in the tech industry for seven years and as a researcher in academia, I realized we often forget to take humans into account in every element of product development. This led me to undertake the MSc/MA in Innovation Design Engineering at Imperial College London and the Royal College of Art.

I appreciate the affinity between engineering and design in achieving a common purpose. This perspective encourages me to be curious and creative, seeking alternative answers to questions that perhaps haven’t been asked before.


Read more on:

‘Fallback device can bypass governmental internet shutdowns to give access to news’, Dezeen, 13 March 2020.

‘Fallback - Designing for global internet shutdowns’, Student Notable Design for Social Impact Award, Core77 Design Awards, 2020

Rizi, B. S., Braasch, K., Salimi, E., Butler, M., Bridges, G., Thomson, D., “Monitoring the dielectric response of single cells following mitochondrial ATP synthase inhibition by oligomycin using a dielectrophoretic cytometer,” Biomicrofluidics, November 2014

We are living amidst the fourth industrial revolution. We, as designers, need smarter tools for designing, iterating and prototyping the future. Revolutionizing the future of manufacturing would not be possible without revolutionizing our arsenal as designers: our prototyping tools.  

Industrial revolution 3.0 was fueled by mechanization, petroleum, coal, and of course plastics. Industry 3.0 mechanized handmade into production lines. We focused on making high-functioning and robust industrial machines but many of these technologies didn’t make it to the hands of makers and designers and stayed behind the walls of industrial plants.

Coming from a background in Electrical and Software Engineering, I’m passionate about understanding highly technical processes and bringing them into the hands of designers and makers as a prototyping tool. 

The community of designers and makers is already taking existing rapid prototyping tools such as additive manufacturing to the next level. Smart textiles made from 3D printing conductive filaments and 4D printing are examples of horizons that additive manufacturing opened up for us.

My experimental design journey led me to explore prototyping for textiles.

What would the future look like if prototyping in textiles was as easy as replacing 3D printer filaments? 

Spindle, the working prototype.
Spindle, demo

Spindle is a desktop rapid prototyping tool that enables textile innovators to create nonwoven fabrics.

Existing 3D printers are not capable of creating super thin fibers. Spindle leverages a technique called Electrospinning to create fibers that are nanometer to micrometer in thickness.

This is integrated with the precision, accessibility, and familiarity of 3D printers. Spindle tames a highly complex technique and brings it into the hands of designers as a rapid prototyping tool.



— Two materials, one deposited on top of the other.
— Spindle fabrics can be wrinkle-free.
— Spindle fabrics are water repellent and yet breathable.
— Spindle fabrics feel like any other fabrics.
— Spindle fabrics can have woven textures.
— Spindle fabrics take the form of the printing bed.

With Spindle, designers can customize every inch of the nonwoven fabric, make composites or create fabrics that are not necessarily flat.

Fabrics created by Spindle can be customized to be wrinkle-free, highly breathable, and at the same time show resistance to water absorption.

Spindle is compatible with a wide range of 3D printing filaments including conductive materials, recycled plastics, biodegradables, and any other experimental 3D printing filaments. What would the future look like having fabrics made from these materials?

— turning trash into treasure by making insulating layers from recycled plastics
— experimental 3D fabrics
— What would the next pandemic look like if we could make high-quality masks at home?
— integrating conductive materials into garments

Spindle is inspired by traditional wet felt making. The idea was sparked by the question of:

"How might we make felts in a highly controlled fashion?"

Spindle was created at home while in a lockdown.

I would like to express my gratitude to all the people who generously shared their insight throughout the interviews.

Special thanks to Prof. Peter Dobson, University of Oxford and Michael Rivera, Carnegie Mellon University.