Possible Tomorrows: when technology brings more poetry into fashion

Ying Gao's latest interactive garments integrate fingerprint recognition technology

in brief

Transcending technological experimentation, Canadian-Chinese designer Ying Gao is known for her interactive design projects. She questions our assumptions about clothing by combining urban design, architecture and media design. Design is the medium, situated in the technological rather than in the textile realm : sensory technologies allow garments to become more poetic and interactive.

Images credit: Dominique Lafond

Her latest project, “Possible Tomorrows” aesthetics takes inspiration from vintage game Spirograph, evoking hypotrochoids shapes. The flattened curves were drawn by a single point, linked to a mobile circle rolling without sliding, on and inside of an initial circle. This design was developed from a series of algorithms linked to the realm of pattern recognition, or scatter graph.

Made of Nylon mesh, Nylon thread, PVDF thread, and thermoplastic, the garments are equipped with an integrated electronic system, and feature a fingerprint scanner that can activate the movement of the garments when a stranger’s fingerprint is not recognized.

As she feels security has become a political technology, Gao designed these garments to open up to people that are strangers.

We met Ying Gao during one of her exhibitions in Paris, and asked her about her work and inspiration. As she opened up her creative universe, she pointed out how she tries to bring intangible concepts into her work, be it a sound, a gaze, or a facial expression; and combines it to a technological data through the use of softwares or sensors. All of this hard tech is then integrated into very light materials like Nylon of Japanese Organza so that when combined, the technology and materials evoke visual poetry.

“For the integration of the electronics and technical parts, I have been working for years with Simon Laroche – who is a robotics designer and also happens to be a very good friend of mine. As soon as the project concept is defined, he is implicated at all the steps and we have back and forths on the garments’ volumes, so that he can integrate the technology inside them properly.”

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