Skip to main content
Textiles (MA)

Monika Dolbniak

Monika is a sensory designer and researcher.

Through textiles, she explores how we can design, control, and measure senses of touch, vision, kinesthetics, sound and smell to create multi-sensory textiles that improve object-user interaction and ultimately support Highly Sensitive users' well-being. Throughout her research, she designs various textile applications for objects, clothing, and within spaces to develop communication tools that help in imagining one's sense of comfort in different sensory scenarios. Monika can see the value of generating knowledge in peoples’ unique sensory perception of garments, which features she would like to explore further within contexts of fashion design, textiles, healthcare, and neuropsychology. Over the last 4 years, she has been researching sensory needs through design and sensory integration workshops with parents, teachers, students, and autistic individuals.

Monika’s background is in the fashion industry, she is currently working as a freelance sensory kids' wear designer. She also supplements her research with additional psychology studies and teaching experience in SEND. 

Exhibitions/ Awards

2023 | Gdynia Design Days | Solo Exhibition | “Sensory Storytelling” 

2023 | IFFTI Fashion Conference | “Sensory Practices in Fashion Design”

2022 | PriestmanGoode x London Design Week | Highly Commended | “Materials and Health”

2022 | Creative Conscience Award | Silver award | “Health, Wellbeing & Disability”

2022 | State of Fashion & ArtEZ | International Fashion Conference | “Ways of Caring”

Degree Details

School of DesignTextiles (MA)Soft SystemsRCA2023 at Truman Brewery

Truman Brewery, F Block, First and second floors

Young female, in white t-shirt and glasses, short blonde-pink hair,  working by the table full of fabric and paper swatches.

Every day, various stimuli affect our well-being, but our sensory needs are so unique that it is difficult to describe them, and even more so, to create products that will be friendly and universal at the same time.

Therefore, how to use creative practices to discuss matters of comfort?

Are co-design and democratic design effective tools for creating solidary products that have the potential to improve users' well-being?

The Sensory Storytelling project was conducted in collaboration with a group of 12 adult autistic students from the Share Community in London. The project focused on studying users’ sensory preferences within an educational environment and aimed to collectively design school decoration elements that would improve students' well-being and help them manage stress through multisensory therapy and stimulation. The main part of the project was a series of workshops and testing sessions that included discussion, art activities, and working on pictograms and worksheets. During the meetings, mostly non-verbal, students learned about various methods to effectively communicate and visualise their needs. The project resulted in creating a collaboratively designed, modular textile set for group sensory integration therapy, which will be returned to the school and further tested in terms of their functionality.

"Is art healing" Documentary video
Two hands interacting with multi-colour textile patches.
Sensory Storytelling, media item 4
Multi-colour printed mat hanged against white background.

Modular set that improves autistic users' well-being through group therapy and multisensory stimulation.

Workshops and research carried out during the project have proven that art-making has the most soothing and therapeutic effect on participants. The product can be used by students in the classroom or sensory rooms as a toy, a mobile classroom decoration, or a customisable tool for creating collages. The kit can also be used by teachers to teach students about senses or conduct creative group work.

Through the variety of textures, the elements provide the user with various visual, tactile, olfactory, auditory, and interactive experiences. Prints and decorations are made by methods of screen printing, laser cutting, puff binder, and quilting; some of the patches and snakes are filled with weighted or soft material and sound-producing shapes. Moreover, some elements attract the user's attention with their scent (lavender) and an interactive thermochromic print that changes colour. The patches have hooks and Velcro buttons for attaching them to the mat or tangling together in 3D objects.

Multi-colour printed textile snakes and patches.
Tangled cords hanging.
Collaged textile piece hanging.
Sensory Landscapes, media item 3
Collaged textile piece hanging
Collaged posters hanging.
Sensory Landscapes, media item 6

Artworks expressing group's sensory identity

During workshops and testing sessions, students from Share explored their sensory preferences by engaging in inclusive worksheets, pictograms and art activities. This resulted in unique works of art visualising the group’s sensory identity, that have been recontextualized into new holistic art installations and inspirations.

Student painting on the wall. Black graphics on the right.
Printed, multicolour pattern
Collaged graphics.
Printed, multicolour textile

The Coats Foundation Trust