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"wearability" Tag


WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY


Sunday, December 10, 2017

 

WEARABLE TECHNOLOGY

Our clothes are probably some of the most tactile and flexible objects surrounding us – touching our bodies at all times. This is probably also why it has been such a hard job for designers and researchers to combine it with the stiff mechanics of technology. The term used when these fields are combined is Wearable Technology. Something that fashion designer Pauline van Dongen has been known internationally for exploring. But while Pauline van Dongens works primarily exist in the span of the human body interacting with its physical surroundings, I find it more interesting to research how technology can elevate our identity through clothing.

 

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We use technology to perform our identities online.

We use fashion to perform our identities through garments.

Why not try to physically combine technology with clothes as a way of enhancing how we showcase our individuality and uniqueness.

 

For wearable technologies to become truly integrated with fashion we have to bridge the divide between aesthetics and how we understand technology’s usefulness.” – Pauline van Dongen

 

FASHIONABLE TECHNOLOGY

It is obvious that clothes functions as a protective extension of the skin, but it is just as important that they help us form our individual identities. Our identities are ‘wearable’ and changeable through fashion, and have been so for a long time now. The new aspect of adding technology to this equation will hopefully be able to offer alternative and new ways of transforming our identities.

At the moment, there is already a lot of researching going on and a lot of solutions being proposed as to how wearable technology can change our current view of fashion. This research does not only include experiments like Pauline van Dongen’s, regarding the practical usefulness of technology in fashion, but can also have a more conceptual or aesthetic focus point. These projects become interesting since this is where a lot of the ‘identity-making’ in fashion occurs.

Ying Gao is another fashion designer dealing with the concept of technology intertwining with her designs. But in comparison to Pauline van Dongen she uses technology primarily for conceptual and aesthetic reasons. However, this still interacts between the human body and its surroundings, but does not allow the wearer itself to manipulate his/her clothing. Something I think that would be a logical next step with wearable technology.

 

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Other research exemplifies how this self-initiated interaction might become possible. Dr. Sabine Seymour, who is the director of the Fashionable Technology Lab at Parsons The New School for Design in New York, has even written a book with this exact title, Fashionable Technology, that researches the intersection of design, fashion, science and technology. On top of that, several companies are working on inventions involving textile – such as touch-screen fabric. I find this study interesting because it is the steppingstone for making fashion truly customizable at any time. And not only by the external domain of a phone or computer, but by actual interaction with the textiles you put on your body. This idea of technology leading to a more tactile and touchable communication with your clothes – instead of it being dematerialized in a device – also takes technology in a totally new direction.

 

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INDIVIDUAL TECHNOLOGY

Of course there is plenty of ways to approach linking the gap between aesthetics and the functionality of technology. Personally, I am curious about a solution where that link would manifest new ways of projecting my personal identity. Combining the idea of a, supposedly soon-to-be, future where textiles can act as touch-screens, I have tried to conceptualize how technology can have an effect on fashion and its personal value.

 

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There is no doubt that technological innovations will have a deep impact on the meaning and communication of fashion and thereby identity.

[…] we have now entered an age in which technology is not only a bodily extension, but also a physical improvement, enhancement and expression.”

Throughout your life your identity is constantly changing, so it seems only logical to design new types of clothing that can follow your personal development. As my video suggests, this would be possible if clothing became truly obedient to your personal wishes and could be customized with your own hands. You could then at any given moment change the appearance of your clothing – and your identity. A more analogue example of this is the Color-In Dress, made as a cooperation between Berber Soepboer (fashion designer) and Michiel Schuurman (graphic designer). Although my experiment is limited to colors and patterns, you could imagine that even shape or texture could be transformable too, with the rate technology is developing.

Indeed, this way of customizing your style is already possible, but at the expense of a fast, unsustainable and trend-driven industry. If my (suggestive) model of wearable technology [x] is realized, I believe that this would establish an intimate dialogue between body, mind and fabric – making fashion more valuable to the wearer. It is the relationship you have with your clothes and how it mirrors your personality and emotions, I find interesting to develop further with technology.

Pauline van Dongen’s vision is based on the belief that technology can add new value and meaning to fashion. She does this while focusing on the human body and an interactive relation to its surroundings. I believe, that it is just as important how wearable technology can add an interactive level to our projection of ourselves, and change our relationship with fashion on a very personal level.

 

minding material


Monday, December 1, 2014

The exhibition The Future of Fashion Is Now [museum Boymans van Beuningen until January 2015] showed us an inspiring assortment of progressive designers with their newest techniques.

One of the many designers who participated in this exhibition was Iris van Herpen, who graduated at the Hogeschool voor de Kunsten Artez in Arnhem, the Netherlands. During her study she did an internship at Alexander McQueen in London and Claudy Jongstra in Amsterdam. Later, she began designing shoes for United Nude. An intriguing aspect is that she sees herself as a combination of a fashion designer and designer.
Iris van Herpen describes her own work as fashion where norms have no value and are being discarded. For her, fashion is a combination of craftsmanship and innovative techniques. It’s those techniques that really fascinate me in her work. Personally, I got really intrigued by the unique combination of materials and the technique with magnets she used to create the metal dress with, in collaboration with Jolan Van der Wiel.
On the other hand, the idea of using unusual materials such as wood and synthetics for 3D printing and laser cutting which eventually can be transformed into –wearable or non wearable– fashion, was a true eye opener for me.

 

Inspired by this project, I have pictured my own body in a plastic vacuum. Since this wasn’t possible with the vacuum machine that is available in school because of its size, I did thorough research on the internet in order to be able to build my own vacuum machine with the help of my father. Firstly, I made a mold out of plaster so that I could ‘pull’ vacuum from a see-through body. The heat got spread by a heater. In this way, only a small surface could be heated and I had no control of how the pvc plate would react to this. The consequence was that the pvc was about to burst or left air bubbles behind.

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In the beginning I was quite disappointed because it didn’t go the way I expected it to. On the other hand, these little imperfections in the body actually do give some added value to the work. Having control over  your material can be handy, but as soon as you lose this, interesting and unique things can happen. This reminded me of the magnets that have a will of their own in the project of Iris van Herpen en Jolan van der Wiel.

 

Her growing metal dress from immediately had an impact on me when I saw it from a small distance. The dress presented in the museum was one of her latest experiments. The 3D printed dress lay in a bath and grows with the help of fluoride liquid and magnets. To develop this dress she asked Jolan van der Wiel, a product designer, for help. Because of her urge to constantly apply new techniques, she frequently works together with other artists who specialize in the handling of these certain techniques. Jolan tries to forget the mundane things in his studio and to trust and make use of his imagination. Just like Iris van Herpen, he is fascinated by the working of different instruments that offer him a platform to his fantasy.

Iris van Herpen_ferroJurk Iris van herpen_FerroJurk 2

One of the instruments he uses are magnets. He creates a mixture of synthetic and metal that transforms by the help of magnets in order to create his own, unique chairs. The magnet grabbed Iris van Herpen’s attention, what resulted in a collaboration. Together, they developed a way to transform metal by using magnets so shoes and garments could be made from this. They used the same technique as Johan van der Wiel (graduated from Rietveld Academy’s

Designlab in 2011) did to design his chairs [x]. JvW_black-gravity-stool They made a basis mold, the form of the dress or shoe, and ornamented this with the synthetic magnet mixture. Subsequently, when the mold is solid, the magnets continue to do their job. They determine how the form eventually will look like. The attracted force designs the shape and after that the plastic hardens whereby the form stays permanent. In this way, thousands of divergent forms can originate and every product has a truly unique aspect.

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They practiced this technique in real life situation in the Boijmans museum. Underneath the 3D printed dress, different magnets are hidden. Above the dress, the fluoride liquid drops down, falling on the dress. Through the magnets, the liquid sticks which makes the dress grow layer by layer. Therefore the name ‘growing dress’.

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Furthermore, without the fluoride liquid, the dress is made out of synthetic that is 3D printed. This is a technique that we continually see coming back in her designs. A 3D printer is a device that creates arbitrary three-dimensional objects based on digital drawings. The material that is used builds up layer per layer, such as the Ferro fluid process. With this technique, Iris van Herpen is able to accomplish sculptures that are impossible to make by hand.

 

Next to the 3D printer she also makes use of a lasercut machine. This machine makes it possible to cut or engrave different patterns out of different materials. These patterns are being outlined on a computer program like Illustrator and Autocat. I recently used this technique as well. The only thing is that you need to have good knowledge of material. Is the material elastic, is it going to melt because of the heat?

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The laser cut literally cuts the pattern or the figures with a cropped laser. On the basis of the material you coordinate the data for the machine. How deep does the radius have to go? How fast? Is it supposed to go slower somewhere, for example in turns? I personally experienced this when doing material research for the making of my bodysuits. Some materials work a lot better than expected, others are being destroyed completely by the heat. Now I know that table foil is a perfect material to cut and ribbed cardboard is completely useless, while I expected the opposite.

 

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Iris van Herpen and Rem D. Koolhaas, the face behind United Nude, both agree that the border between fashion and design is tremendously vague. Together, they try to make the impossible possible as not everything has to be easy. One of the first shoes they developed together is the ‘Iris van Herpen x United Nude 2.0’, a limited edition made out of patent leather. The big secret of the weirdly formed shoe is the balance between the heel that is curved to the front and the gravity. This shoe was a big challenge for the both of them, but also for the wearer. United Nude was founded with the idea of breaking the conventional rules of designing shoes. The rules don’t have to be broken, they just tried to simply ignore the rules. The higher the heel, the bigger the challenge.
Speaking of challenges, Iris doesn’t only pushes boundaries in the shoe world but also in the fashion world. Here, we also see that she applies techniques that are being used in the design world. She wants to experiment with material and shapes.
This is something I also try to do myself, processing unusual materials while keeping the pure visible. In photography, I try to apply as few Photoshop techniques as possible. In my opinion, Photoshop is only there to corrugate, like for example the contrast, a disrupting line or adapting a color. Thus, I made a triptych in which material is central. In front of the camera, someone held table foil, which actually did all the work for the photo. I could have Photoshopped a nice little effect, but for me it’s all about experimenting with different materials.

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Iris van Herpen doesn’t like following the rules blindly and decently too, that’s why she doesn’t think wearability is important for fashion. Because of this reason, she is able to use materials like synthetic, metal and wood, that can be transformed and cut through the help of her favorite techniques, namely 3D printing and laser cutting.

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Just like Iris, I like working with unusual materials, and that’s why her work has a definite impact on me. She inspired me to dare to use different materials and techniques and made me step out of my comfort zone. So the main difference between all the other shown designer pieces is that the Ferrofluiddress is not at all a static object but it is a growing piece of art. Iris isn’t only a traditional designer who only works in fashion, but an artist who converts her experimentation into wearable sculptures.

 

“I find beauty in the continual shaping of chaos, which clearly embodies the primordial power of nature’s performance”
–Iris van Herpen–

 


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