Caroline is a designer scientist with a lot of instinct. Born in Grande Rio do Sul, Brazil, she went to school to become a doctor, but her desire to travel and see the world changed her destiny and made her follow fashion design. When she finished her degree, she came to Portugal and joined UBI, where she became a researcher in textile engineering. At last Techtextil, it shone to the highest level, winning the Innovation Award for its innovative project, the E-caption 2.0 jacket
hen she went up on stage to receive the Innovation Award at the last edition of Techtextil, Caroline Loss saw the acknowledgment for the usefulness of her E-Caption, a technological jacket to which she dedicated the last years of her work and research. However, that prize was also proof that one of her goals had been accomplished: she had found “her way” of helping people, even when she had changed plans so many times.
Native of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, Caroline went through her school years with the idea of studying Medicine. However, by the time of “vestibular”– the exam that determines the access to Universities in Brazil – she decided to follow her gut. “I wanted to get to know the world, and if I was stuck in a hospital for the rest of my life, I would never be able to do that”, she justifies. And that was how fashion came into her life, with a decision so sudden that took everyone around her by surprise. “As fashion (in Portuguese, ‘moda’) and Medicine start with the same letter, my mother even asked me if I hadn’t filled out the form wrong, if I hadn’t made a mistake”, she tells.
Back then, the degree of her native Caxias do Sul University still had the name “Fashion and Style”. The will to open new horizons led her to a semester in Buenos Aires, to Universidad Argentina de la Empresa, where she rediscovered her calling. “I had the most passionate first contact with textile design. My degree was directed towards fashion and not so much to the materials that are the basis of everything”, she recalls.
Back in Brazil, she completes an internship at a home wear company – “I designed pyjamas with a sporty concept, which could be used on the street, to go to the market, for example” – where she remained for a while, accruing experience. “I felt like I designed things, but I didn’t quite know which materials to choose, so I wanted to study that side, and I wanted to do it abroad”. She looked for the best degree and her instinct brought her to Universidade da Beira Interior: “That’s where I want to go! The textile component was very strong and all the results in Google either mentioned Covilhã or Manchester”.
She registered for the Fashion Design masters on August 2010, at the age of 21. The classes started in September and Caroline had never been to Portugal, nor Europe as a matter of fact. “I came on a late flight and took the last train of the night, which arrived in Covilhã at 11pm. The train station was under renovations, I had two hefty bags and taxis were nowhere to be seen. There was nobody there, it was a little frightening”, she evokes.
Perceptions changed and rapidly she embraced the status of a Covilhã expat. In the first year of her Masters, during a class of tecnofashion, she saw the light. “I saw conductor textiles, textiles that switched lights on, textiles with channels for perspiration, and I was impressed with all this potential. I didn’t quite know how yet, but I knew that this was the field I would be working on”, and two years onward, she found herself completing her PhD in Textile Engineering.
In 2012, she takes part in a research project centred on electromagnetic antennas made from textile materials that would become E-Caption, a protective jacket designed for telecom tower maintenance technicians. “In the beginning, it was very challenging for me because the team was made solely by engineers, and I was the only designer. I had a few notions of electromagnetism and optics, but I had to go back and study”, she says. Following a first version – “that still held a rigid plate” – the team developed the 2.0 version, totally made from textiles. At Techtextil the project left the jury in awe, and besides the award, there are companies interested on the technology, though the business model is still to be defined.
Whatever the future might be, Caroline is certain of one thing. “When I didn’t go to Medicine, I reckoned I had to find another way of helping people”. The protective jacket is the proof that textile design went down the right course, but Caroline is still holding many cards up her sleeve.
Family Lives with her boyfriend Pedro, also a researcher at UBI. The rest of the family “is in Brazil” Training A PhD in Textile Engineering and Masters in Fashion Design (both at UBI with a grade of 19 out of 20), after taking a bachelor’s degree in Fashion and Style from Universidade de Caxias do Sul (Brazil) Home A flat in Covilhã Car Nissan Leaf (she also owns a 94 Suzuki Swift for larger trips) Laptop MacBook Cellphone Xiaomi A2 Hobbies Binge-watching TV shoes (Grey’s Anatomy, The Big Bang Theory and Suits are her favourites) Holidays When she’s not going to Brazil, she does road trips around Europe (she has gone from Portugal to Bosnia on her Suzuki) Golden Rule “Absorb and pass on the most amount of knowledge with everybody I cross paths with”