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pretty switches

mercury tilt switches
magnetic switch


post industrial folk wear

Mau (Marian Schoettle) designed this collection of simple coats and accessories made from Tyvek. She has an interesting view on her process and on materiality:
"The garments are essentially built: with all detail emerging from construction decisions. The material is featherweight tyvek(R): a high performance non woven taken from construction and graphic trades and adapted and manipulated here for personal use. Along with excellent performance properties, I was drawn to the material because it looks fragile and perishable like paper but is in fact a tough and resistant modern material. (Partially recycled and is recyclable)

I am not interested in making hard or perfect futuristic clothing, smart clothing, or high design. I am trying to coax the genie that is so commonly found in folk wear to appear in work that is of our time. [...] The work is designed in my studio in the Hudson Valley, sewn in the NYC Garment District under the auspices of the Garment Industry Development Corporation. The material is made in the USA, surplus materials are gathered from the local computer, snowboard and automotive industries, and design studio scraps are recycled."


wendy legro

Student in the Man and Well-being program at the renown Design Academy of Eindhoven, Wendy Legro created this coat:

White LEDs are embedded in the folds of this classic looking jacket. Pleats really are one of my favorite textile structure to integrate all kind of movement or implemented material, as electronic. It is a way of creating some hidden space, some volumes or some modularity that give infinite possibilities. Unfortunately, there is no information about the inspiration, the process or the interaction of this jacket on the artist's website. But while I was searching for it, I found this other project of Legro, Morning Glory, which is better explained and is quite lovely:

"The sun is our natural light source. Our homes are filled with artificial light replacing it, undeliberately disrupting our biological clock.

This product works autonomously with a light sensor. During the day, mechanical flowers are closed enabling sunlight to come in. When sun sets, the flowers open and start to emit light. In this way, awareness for a beautiful phenomenon will be brought back."

A stop motion video of the project can be seen on the website.

Merci à Julie L.

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Tentative Architecture

By Xárene:
"This architecture allows for ventilation by mimicking the breathing of its wearer.
One version uses galvanic skin response sensors and shape memory alloys which respond to the wearer's mood and ambient temperature changes. A second version is powered by a bio-kinetic hand-fan."
In collaboration with Joshua Hernandez, PhD student, Math UCLA
Materials: Hand knitted and felted wool, shape memory alloy (Dynalloy Muscle Wire), Arduino Lilypad

The way this garment is moving, "living", "breathing", is making me very uncomfortable. I am shivering when I look at it; its organic motion gives me the feeling that it is alive, that it really has a breathe impregnated inside of it. The structure of the garment in itself is not so impressive; it is basically a felted piece of knitted wool that is crinkled. There is no garment shape in it, it is just placed over the model for the outside picture. Xárene being a conceptual architect, I guess she has no formation in pattern making of any kind. But the potential in this piece being transformed in a garment is quite promising.

Tentative Architecture of Other Earth from Xárene on Vimeo.

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the fat map

UK designer Shelley Fox and Sir Peter Mansfield, who won a Nobel prize in 2003 for his contributions to medicine centered on his work with medical resonance imaging (MRI), collaborated in 2008 to create this series of garments.

"The Fat Map collection explores how the patterns of clothing change as garments are altered for different bodies. Shelley has monitored changes in the internal and external body fat of six volunteers who undertook a controlled exercise and dietary regime. Using an MRI scanner, the volunteers have been scanned before; during and after the regime and their “fat maps” form the basis of the collection.

Shelley questions both technical and conceptual conventions in a bid to redefine how clothes are worn. Her use of unorthodox pattern cuts and materials such as scorched felted wool, using Braille markings and Morse code, have earned her a string of illustrious prizes. Motivated by an interest in humanity and social interactions, her distinctive style results from a training in both fashion and textiles."

I think this is a nice way to integrate sciences in the experimental design field. It doesn't just inspire: it also addresses questions to users or viewers about weight, physiognomy and their relation with fashion. I think this methodology of collaboration between designer and scientist in the process of creation could be applied to a vast variety of thematics, which could be more poetic and subversive.

Found via Fashioning Technology.

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maison martin margiela: atelier artisanal

image tirée de l'exposition dysfashional.

une brève visite dans l'atelier -habituellement si secret- de la maison margiela.

Maison Martin Margiela : Atelier Artisanal from Materialiste Paris on Vimeo.


This Berlin based label has created a smart system that allows buyers to take part in the design of nice design products. They hacked a knitting machine from the 70's which had a speech recognition device to create this interactive process:
“the frequency band of a spoken message is converted into a binary code for knitting patterns. [...] this online based process makes it possible to transfer a personal and unique spoken message into a fashion piece.”

You visit their website and first you choose a design and a color. They you create a knitting pattern: you the website accessing your computer's microphone and register a message, or sound. For the example below, it is the music that was playing in my workshop that has been recorded. Almost instantly, a binary code is generated of the record and show you the created pattern.

They are selling quality products, with a nice color chart and an intersting collection of basic garments. But I think that the most interesting aspect of the project is the fact that the interaction is so personal. You can record a message that only you will feel and remember when you will wear the knitted piece. It is an intimate souvenir, something that you want to carry with you without necessarily sharing it. I enjoy this idea of the secret coded message, carried around with you and taken care of on a daily basis.

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impermanent realities

By Julie Legault, master's student at The RCA:
" 'Interconnecting atmospheric pieces reveal glimpses of inner identities' transform a piece into a moment.

Lighting up according to the wearer's movement, each piece contains a single light, battery unit and magnet. The battery lifespan being voluntarily ephemeral, as is the hooded garment itself, the pieces must awaken attachment in the wearer before time/power runs out, in order to sustain their value and significance, while revealing layers of identity and the impermanence of realities."

Those delicate and organic handmade jewelry objects are creating a soft and soothing atmosphere. I would just want to fall asleep holding this project, replacing the traditional lullaby an night light. Julie, who is my close friend, chose as a starting point for her project a piece of my Tactile Hoodies series. Here she explains why:

"Her hoodie, from the Tactile Hoodies collection made at Concordia University, revisits 'Impressions and sensations' that come about wearing and experiencing a familiar garment in not-so-familiar materials.

I chose the 'Kodell Hoodie' because of its dreaminess, its seemingly purity as well as the sharp contrast between its look and actual feel (not at all soft and cushy and cloud-like.) The hoodie embodies contrast and seems to be made of magic and stormy winter nights.

The hoodie is classified in the 'adorning' category by Anne-Marie for her upcoming book project, which is perfectly perfect for my project.

This idea of collaboration, of taking an 'overcoat' from a known source is very important to me, as product attachment, the idea of memory, stories and symbolism do play a part in my work."

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By collective GAIA ( Gloria Pizzilli, Arianna Petrakis, Ilaria Pacini, and Adele Bacc):
"The project is based on three keywords: isolation, intimacy and ornament. It consists of a set of wearable objects that can be converted into means of isolation, to create a personal intimacy in any environment. The idea derives from a reflection on the change in our relationship with the domestic environment, due to the effects of our increasing mobility, and how this has affected our concept of intimacy, creating new demands. This led to the design of four accessories, screen for four different parts of the body: eyes, ears, face and upper body, expressing, through their shape and color, our desire for intimacy at any time, any place, on various levels.
An ornament that can be worn.
A gesture to transform it.
A secret place for personal intimacy.
A reminder of our exterior aspect.

A strong, dominant exterior that conceals a fragile, personal interior.
Every accessory is shaped according to a pattern that is the same for all. The difference arises in the scale of production, which depends on our demand of intimacy."

This beautiful and poetic project raises interesting questions about intimacy and sharing personal space. It reminds me of a toy I had as a kid, which consisted in a long foldable tunnel where I was laying and hiding. This shell was making me invisible and was giving a calm break from my brothers. Veasyble could be my adult version of it, where I could take breaks from my colleagues, classmates, and only share my space with wanted ones.

Made out of paper bonded to polyethylene and fabric, all in white, the project is inspired (again) by traditional origamic folds. It reminds me strongly this interactive project on which I worked from Ying Gao, the dress 2 of Walking City.

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squaring the square

By Lisa Shanio, Moscow:
"Collection is called Squaring the Square because each of the six models is based on a similar division principle – as in the title problem. The whole collection is based on rectangular pieces of various length and width ranging from rectangles to squares sewn together and bonded in different order (there are only two models where several curved lines have been used).The scanning of shoes construction also represents a rectangle cut out from PVC, overturned in a certain order and fixed in accordance with the foot shape."

Even if the general look of the collection is far from my own aesthetic, I appreciate this dress for its integration of simple mathematical patterns and the its integration in a 3D shape; the body. The origamic effect, as usual, has a strong attraction on me. I enjoy the way she let some "traces" of the folds, like a paper material would have done. The dress seems to be woven with giant ribbons, creating an interesting space for the arms.

I also found these process pictures that are quite interesting on her flicker:
Found via fashioning technology.

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why I need things

This is a representation of one of my favorite piece of clothing, the Melting Dress from Eve Gravel. This dress makes me feel incredibly good when I wear it. It has some masculine attributes, inspired by tuxedo: the black cotton twill material and the Gladstone inspired collar lined in black satin. I admit those make me feel stronger. The way I received it was quite magic, and it makes me feel proud to wear a local designer's piece.

This is an illustration of the book of 20, The Exhibition of Martin Margiela at the MOMU, Antwerp. It is the catalog of this retrospective of his work.
Martin Margiela being one of my favorite designer, this book is a constant inspirational source. Non-available in North America, my friend Catherine brought it back from Europe for me a year ago. I feel lucky of having it in my bookcase.

This is a toy reproduction of a sewing machine that a good friend of mine gave me.
Colorful and playful (you can crank it and it imitates sewing!), this little toy reminds me that I always have to find pleasure in work. I identify strongly to it, as the sewing machine is one of my work tool.

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why we need things

History from Things: Essays on material Culture
Edited by S. Lubar & W.D. Kingery, 1993
Why We Need Things, pp.20-29
Mihali Csikszentmihalyi

This chapter examines the reasons why we are so dependent to objects. Furniture, books, clothing, decorative objects are filling our houses without us thinking about the impacts they have on our self-construction and identity. Why are we so attached to souvenirs, to pictures or to old objects?

The amount of garbage created by our consuming society is unbelievable. Some of those objects that are filling the dumps are definitely dangerous, containing chemicals and being harmful for living organisms. Why then are we still over consuming them? Csikszentmihalyi has an interesting theory about the evolution of objects. They explain that objects are reproducing themselves, similarly to animal species, from one generation of objects to another one. For instance, if you look at cell phones, they are all very similar in shape, construction, and size than their previous models.

Mobile Evolution, 2009, Kyle Bean

This idea is closely linked to Dunne and Raby’s theory of Affirmative design and Critical design discussed in their Design Noir and Hertzian Tales books. Designers who stop looking at previous designs as starting point but really think about news ways of living with objects, embodying a critical view on existing values and ideologies are practicing critical design. An important personality of the 20th century, Buckminster Fuller, is a great example of critical design. His Dymaxion’s houses and cars are a demonstration of how you can turnaround the progression of a manmade object and have a second thought about their utility, materiality and embodied values. Critical design can definitely change the fundamentals of a life style.

Csikszentmihalyi recalls the importance of understanding our relation with objects.

“Most of the things we make these days do not make feel better in any material sense but instead serve to stabilize and order the mind.” (p. 22)

They explain that an external order is creating for human beings a mental stability, that it organizes our life experience.

“It is difficult to understand our psychological dependence on objects as long as we hold to the belief that human beings are naturally in control of what happens in their minds.” (p. 22)

Thinking that we control what is happening in our minds might be false, but this “cozy anthropocentric illusion” is still helping us to have an organized life. But this control stays fragile, and when man has nothing concrete to do and occupy his mind, his mental starts deteriorating. Objects keep grounded on the present, they help you remember the past and plan the future: “without external props even our personal identity fades and go out of focus: the self is a fragile construction of the mind”. (p.22)

Csikszentmihalyi says that there is three major ways that the objects help constructing the self. First, the objects of power can be related to a demonstration of financial power, of gender based strength, of good taste, etc. Second, the objects of continuity of the self are the one that help you constructing your memory, your unique personality. Third and last, the objects of relationships are the one that link you to your social network.

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