We were inspired by the quote by Nathaniel Hobs Jenkins, “Beauty becomes ugly under the influence of the demons inside the mind.”
We are all beautiful people, perfect white flowers waiting to bloom. Yet, we still crave perfect beauty, endlessly pursuing it. In our attempts to reach that beauty, the demons in our minds tell us that the perfection we hope to achieve is still far away. We attempt to chase after the epitome of beauty but drown in the concept of what true perfection is. Now, when we look at ourselves, because we overthink, because we have no self-love or because we are too harsh on ourselves, we warp our beauty into what we think is inner demons- ugliness and pain that other people don’t see. The disgusting flesh hiding within the perfect exterior of a white flower bud. We think that these demons are the representation of our raw selves, our true flesh. We tell ourselves that the beauty people say we have is just a plain white mask, and that they don’t see the ugliness hiding beneath it. Our ugliness is on the inside solely because it comes from within- it is the demons in our own minds that have manifested the ugly in ourselves. The beauty we each have in ourselves is lost upon us, becoming imperfect and ruined in our own eyes. It is never enough, and the voices in our heads whisper confirmations of our failures.
We wanted a dress that looks simple, pure and pretty from the outside to represent the beauty that everyone has within them. We then wanted our transformation to be very visceral, a full contrast of this pretty exterior- our flowers would open up to reveal a disgusting bloody flesh, instead of the expected beautiful flower. With this stark change in aesthetics, we wanted to show how people are afflicted by their own minds. How from the outside, others can see that we possess something so beautiful, but in our own heads, we just think the worst of ourselves. We’re not ugly/imperfect because we are, but because we think that that is what we truly are. Hence, this ugliness appears only on the inside and blooms like a flower from within our own minds. We hope that with our dress, people might feel comforted that they’re not alone in this, and that this is a problem many others face as well. Or that people who don’t really have this issue with themselves might now be aware that this is an issue that some people face. And in all, we wanted people to know that despite some of us maybe thinking we have “a fake beautiful facade that conceals the true horrific flesh other people don’t see”, that in itself can be beautiful as well- We hoped that even with our flowers open, our dress still looks as pretty, or even prettier than when the flowers were closed
TASK: Research existing examples and projects of wearables recontextualizing biomimicry- the imitation of the models, systems, and elements of nature for the purpose of solving complex human problems.
Biomimicry is an approach to innovation that seeks sustainable solutions to human challenges by emulating nature’s time-tested patterns and strategies. The goal is to create products, processes, and policies—new ways of living—that are well-adapted to life on earth over the long haul.
While researching, I found several examples of biomimicry in fashion and realised that they could also be categorised into the Science/Aesthetic approach I previously used on what wearable tech was to me.
I felt that technology and the innovation of new textiles that mimicked solutions/mechanics/science from nature were a more scientific take on biomimicry. On the other hand, a more aesthetic take would be a more direct and visual representation of biomimicry- like designs that mimicked patterns found in nature. I felt like the definition of biomimicry in the project task was more aligned to the scientific-approach rather than the aesthetics. However, I will still be including some examples of both in the following paragraphs!
The following examples, practices the use of the marvels of nature and its functioning for developing new innovative technology. Many innovative textile products have been engineered using biomimicry. They serve a more functional purposes, being purposefully created with specific properties and intended uses
Invented in 1948, Velcro has become a textbook example of biomimicry – an emerging science that emulates nature to solve human problems. After a walk in the fields, George de Mestral noticed burrs stuck to his trousers and his dog’s fur, which led to his creation of a new hook and loop fastening device that we know as velcro
Water spilled on a lotus leaf does not wet its surface but beads up and rolls off, also cleaning its surface from accumulated dust and dirt. This effect is known as “superhydrophobicity”. Researchers have mimicked this process to create water-repellent and self-cleaning materials and fabrics.
Inspired by sharks’ sandpaper-like skin that reduces drag in water,
Researchers studied the swiftness with movements of sharks under water, and found that a sharks’ sandpaper-like skin reduces drag in water. Inspired by this, they developed their own material that reduces friction caused by human skin, while swimming under water. Speedo’s Fastskin line of performance-enhancing swimwear was thus created and helps one swim faster and more smoothly.
BIOMIMICRY LEVEL: Kind of both scientific and aesthetics? Borrowing the form/structure and texture of the sharks skin to apply it for a human-use context
A group of researchers from PennState implemented a new way to produce fabric in order for it to be self-healing and act as a barrier between the bearer and the outside world. By dipping the fabrics in several liquids, they create layers of material that then form a polyelectrolyte layer-by-layer coating. This process was inspired by polymers present in Nature in the form of squid ring teeth proteins, where positively and negatively charged polymers compose the polyelectrolyte coating. For the coating to protect the human body, enzymes can be incorporated into it during the layering: when matched to the harmful chemical being targeted, the enzymes would make the coating tailored to protect the wearer from being contaminated
BIOMIMICRY LEVEL: Feels very scientific as the level of biomimicry is down to a microscopic level, trying to emulate the cellular process that nature has.
There are a lot more similar examples of biomimicry in textile, such as warm clothing, inspired from the thermal insulation properties of a polar bear. Or dye-free coloured fabric inspired by Morpho butterflies’ wings which appear cobalt blue despite lacking any colour pigment. Or a fabric that imitates how a squid changes colors, by expanding or contracting their pigment-filled cells. By taking inspiration from these underwater colour shifters, scientists are taking the first steps towards developing self-camouflaging clothing that could be a boon to the military
The following examples, don’t really serve a functional purpose or solve complex human problems as they function as mainly works of art. However, they still make use of biomimicry in their designs. make fabrics self-healing using conventional textiles. So we came up with this coating technology. For the coating to protect the human body, enzymes can be incorporated into it during the layering
Biomimicry Shoe by Marieka Ratsma and Kostika Spaho
Nature has been the main source of inspiration for the making and shaping of this shoe. Ratsma and Spaho used the shape of a bird’s cranium for the front of the shoe, with the tapered beak as the spike of the heel. The idea for this shoe highlights the aesthetics and the shape of the bird skull, along with the characteristics of the lightweight and highly differentiated bone structure within the cranium.
BIOMIMICRY LEVEL: Leaning towards aesthetics, as the form of the shoe itself directly borrows the anatomy of the bird. Very appearance based mimicry. I feel like there is not much science-approach in this as its a very visual surface-level work, lacking a deeper conceptual meaning that is inspired from processes/behaviors we see in nature.
Iridescence by Behnaz Farahi
The male Anna’s hummingbird has feathers around his throat that appear completely green, but can turn into an iridescent pink when he moves. This is how the Anna’s hummingbird attracts mates during his spectacular displays of aerial courtship. Iridescence is an interactive collar, inspired by the gorget of the Anna’s hummingbird. It is equipped with a facial tracking camera and an array of 200 rotating quills. The custom-made quills flip their colors and start to make patterns, in response to the movement of onlookers and their facial expressions.
BIOMIMICRY LEVEL: Both science and aesthetics, but a less direct copying of a hummingbird. Aesthetically borrows the visual language of the humming bird feathers, and has a very similar appearance. However, Farahi created his own material that uses lenticular science to mimic the color changing feathers of the hummingbird. The logic/system behind the why the custom-made quills also mimic the mating process of the hummingbird, making use of a deeper level of biomimicry
FURTHER READINGS :
While researching, I found some research papers online that are related to the topic. I especially liked the paper “Nature Inspired Clothing Design Based on Biomimicry (2016)” as it was elaborate/detailed; and Anzabi gave numerous good examples, that I did not mention above. He even had the same method of classifying the different levels of biomimicry in clothing design as me.
Nature Inspired Clothing Design Based on Biomimicry (2016)
Lumen Couture provides fashion technology dresses for everyday wear, special events, and performers
Garments incorporate embedded LED technology for fashionable glow that transitions day-to-night
LUMEN COUTURE: https://www.lumencouture.com/
MICROSOFT PRINTING DRESS
The Printing Dress (2011) by Astra Roseway and Sheridan Martin
Laser-cut buttons that look like old typewriter keys are sewn into the dress. A laptop, four circuit boards, and a projector
designed to project what you’re putting out on the Internet
weets become fashion statements as words flit across the skirt
step toward social accountability for your online actions. It could conceivably help reduce the flame war phenomenon that comes from people hiding behind anonymity and pare down the number of controversial tweets offhandedly tossed out by celebrities. Online words become a lot more real when you have to display them to everyone within eyesight
Robotic clothing that reacts to the chromatic spectrum
Made out of silicone, glass, PVDF, electronic devices
Inspired by neurologist Oliver Sacks’ novel., The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat
Like Oliver’s patient, the garments alternate between 2 states- what they are and what they can potentially become as they recognize the colours in their immediate surroundings and adapt to and mirror the rhythm of the ever-changing environment
Two robotised garments are connected to a fingerprint recognition system. However, through bypassing the notion of security, they only become animated in the presence of strangers whose fingerprints aren’t recognised by the scanner
Equipped with a AI facial tracking camera and an array of 200 rotating quills. The custom-made quills flip their colors and start to make patterns, in response to the movement of onlookers and their facial expressions
Explores how wearables can become not only a vehicle for self-expression, but also an extension of our sensory experience of the world
3D-printed wearable which can detect other people’s gaze and respond accordingly
Explore how clothing can behave as an artificial skin capable of changing its shape and operating as an interface with the world, reacting to external stimuli such as emotions, temperature, etc (like real skin)
A camera (can detect age, gender, and orientation of the subject’s gaze) uses image sensing technology communicates with a microcontroller which is able to actuate and control various nodes in the garment.
Special ink (PdCl2) with color change potential across the CMYK or RGB scales. Can be painted, sprayed or dyed on fabric
Ink has chemicals whose molecules change their shape depending on a stimulus, so that they refract light differently and make us see another colour
Stimuli: changes in temperature, UV light, friction, sound, moisture, levels of carbon monoxide absrobed
Pallidium Chloride is commonly used in catalytic converters, which reduce car emissions by reacting with exhaust gases. Reversible process where palladium chloride is broken down into palladium that can be reused, while turning the carbon monoxide into carbon dioxide. Hence the clothing changes from yellow to black in relation to the pollution it absorbs
Swarovski x The Unseen (2014)
Created as a reflection of the inner workings of the human brain, stands true to Bowker’s mission of revealing the magic of the world unseen to the human eye
Headpiece made from chameolonic Swarovski stone
4000 Swarovski gems are doused in temperature-sensitive ink. These stones then serve as insulators to the energy generated and lost from the head, hence changing colour
Throughout the day as your thoughts and emotions drift in and out a beautiful display of gems will shift and change along with you.
Wearer is also equipped with an EEG (electroencephalography) headpiece, which communicates wirelessly with an app
The app then wirelessly sends the data to the garment, which changes colour in response, from monochrome grays and blacks, to subtle pastels, to vibrant rainbow hues — each of which indicates a different emotion
“Red portrays anger, nerves and anxiety, whereas green reflects teaching, sociality and people. Blue reveals calming, truthfulness and peace, while white mirrors an inner state of sensitivity, intuitiveness and psychic ability,”
Could be brought forward in the future to help treat psychological disorders such as depression, or as a measure of emotional states.
THE UNSEEN: http://seetheunseen.co.uk/
TED X LAUREN BOWKER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5VM-
Grown from a bathtub mixture of yeast, bacteria and sweetened green tea, sheets of bacteria cellulose are produced
When wet, they can be molded/sewn into garments. Tinted with vegetable dye
Similar to vegetable leather
Biodegradable and compostable
TED X SUZANNE: https://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_lee_why_biofabrication_is_the_next_industrial_revolution/up-next?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=tedspread
Wearable tech for “mass consumption”
– not really very scientific-approach (like health or textile exploration) or artsy (not haute couture or art pieces that would be placed in an art museum. but belong to high fashion)
– Usually more gimmicky in my opinion???
– Though there are exceptions-> ie anrealage?
"Canvas of the Future" from the Louis Vuitton Cruise 2020 Fashion Show
Louis Vuitton x Royole Corporation (leading innovator and manufacturer of advanced flexible displays and sensors)
Flexible OLED screen allows users to show custom images and videos on the touchscreen displays