In the world of design, technique and innovative fashion, I believe we are moving along an era of experimentation and definement. Artists, designers, scientists and technologists are exploring new directions in the field and as a contemporary designer and researcher, I’m very excited to be part of this innovative voyage.
To develop significant and impactful designs, I believe it is necessary to have a holistic and user-oriented vision. By working according to a vision that comprises the values of interdisciplinarity, user-centredness and sustainability, we are moving towards a healthy long-term future.
Below you will find the essential elements regarding design and innovation in general, as well as the aspects specifically related to fashion tech.
A major plus of the current innovative design world with all its various creators is the open-source research and collaborative mentality of it. Indeed, to fuse different disciplines and industries it is essential to work together with experts within those fields. It is within these intersections where the magic happens, where we can bring out the best in each other and take our work to the next level. There’s a whole realm within these interspaces waiting to be explored!
As a contemporary designer, I want to make a difference in the way we value and relate to the techniques we surround ourselves with by developing designs that can easily adapt to the user’s needs and wishes and help the user navigate through this world. In my research I focus on the fields of expression and communication. We tend to forget and neglect the big role that communication and interaction play in our survival and existence. In my opinion, the worlds of design, innovation and fashion have not been enough aware of this fact and should focus more on integrating the fields of communication, expression and interaction.
Integrative work ethic
As I believe in a holistic approach and in the value and richness of interconnective relationships, my work translates itself into different fields and outcomes. I’m a consultant and coach in art directions and concept development, a researcher on wearable innovation and communication strategies as well as a creative designer of costumes, creatures and wearable tech. Also, body awareness and presentation trainings are part of my work. For me, these fields are so intertwined that it only makes sense for me to combine these different elements.
To change the relationship with the techniques and designs we surround ourselves with into a more sustainable one, I believe it is necessary – and about time! – that these designs are able to adapt according to our needs and wishes. I believe the exploration of interactive as well as modular design approaches can aid in achieving this goal of a longer-term, durable relationship with our tools, garments, utensils and other designs. I envision that adaptive, modular designs will shape our healthy and sustainable future.
Bridge between research and reality
To close the gap between research and reality, I believe it is necessary to integrate the fields of communication, expression and interaction in the current research and development of innovative design. We need to start creating adaptive, convincing and communicative designs that strengthen us as human beings.
Currently, there’s a big gap between research results on techniques, materials and sustainable solutions and the actual ability of implementation in design. So besides investigating the dynamics and interaction between material, technique, human body and bodily movement from a user-centered perspective, it is also imperative that we take the current scientific knowledge to the next level by implementing the research to create actual, sustainable, usable and wearable possibilities. It is on this bridge between research findings and actual implementation that I like – and feel it is necessary – to work.
As part of my practice, my artistic vision on the future and possibilities of sustainable design translates into ways to transform the relationship with our wardrobe. Clothing and wearables are the most powerful non-verbal communication tools we can employ, for they are the most personal forms of design. The fields of fashion and wearable tech are one of the few industries in the world that actually touch your skin, occupy your personal space and express your individuality. I believe dynamic, modular, adaptive garments can help achieve a sustainable world and can change the way we utilize and regard the clothes we wear.
I’m aware of the fact that the fashion industry still has a long way to go if we want it to be contributing to a sustainable and valuable relationship with our wardrobe. It also requires a different attitude from the consumers who are now used to buying fast fashion. Therefore, to transform this industry, contemplating it and innovating it on the following issues using sustainable, communicative designs is highly necessary.
Evolution into fashion tech
The fusion between fashion and technology has caused a change in the way fashion in itself is being valued. Whereas fashion used to be appreciated for its aesthetic and expressive value, the current wearble tech is mainly appreciated for its functionality, utility and effectiveness, caused by the function-driven industry of technology. Current wearable tech is mostly functional technology integrated in garments, whereas I believe we need to move beyond the ‘gadgetness’ of current designs. By creating concepts that go beyond straightforward functions and add a strong communicational, interactive and expressive value we move into the domain of Fashion Tech.
- Relation between human and design
Only when clothes are being worn on the body, they communicate to their fullest extent. Why would we design on static postures if we design for human beings for whom it is essential to communicate by movement? We need to take movement and our knowledge of nonverbal behaviour into account within these processes. Start designing with instead of on our bodies! By doing this, the result becomes one coherent, balanced and convincing communicative being
- User-centric design
In line with the above, I am convinced that it is fundamental to start from a user-centred perspective within design processes in general. What is the relationship between a human and a design? How do they interact, react and strengthen each other? It is all about context and connection and interaction between the user, situation and the design intervention.
- Modular design approach
The recent fast fashion movement has changed our relationship with and appreciation of our clothes in many ways. Most striking is our throw-away mentality that is both the cause and the effect of the fast fashion movement, creating the vicious circle of a never-ending, polluting production of cheap clothes that are made in damaging and humanly degrading circumstances.
Besides my focus on researching responsive textiles and activation methods that could be usable for fashion integration, I experiment with modular design techniques to create sustainable, adaptive garments. By applying a modular approach to fashion, we are able to create garments that can be customized, disassembled and adjusted to the wearer’s needs. It will extend and change the relationship with our garments, thereby offering a sustainable alternative for fast fashion.
- Caring garments
What if we would be able to change the colours, patterns, structures and other properties of our clothes and if people would start embracing these sustainable, qualitative garments instead of the current fast fashion junk? We probably wouldn’t have the constant need for new items anymore. Creating these so-called ‘caring garments’ will take the field of fashion tech to the next level. A caring garment can easily adapt to the user’s needs and wishes, also – or maybe especially – in the fields of expression and communication. Therefore, caring garments represent a human-centric design approach that goes beyond the essential yet easy to understand and straightforward functions.