ROBOTS DESIGNED by Dai Fujiwara 311.
(photo credit: Shai Ben-Efraim)
A vacuum cleaner-inspired garment and wearer, a dress decorated with electrical
wiring, a jacket that can be scanned for fingerprints – these are some of the
objects you will see at the new exhibition Mechanical Couture at the Design
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At first, it is hard to imagine the fusion of fashion and
technology. Haute couture is the epitome of custom-made, high-quality, expressive
fashion. Conversely, machines are widely associated with alienation from the
assembly process, and mass-produced machine-made clothing is the antithesis of
couture. The combination of the two has resulted in a fresh, interesting and
undeniably strange experience in design.
to Israel by US-based Curatorsquared, an independent curatorial partnership
between Judy Fox and Ginger Gregg Dugan. In a recent conference call, Dugan
explained that the team is “interested in areas where fashion, design and art
meet, and not necessarily thinking about them in terms of a strict distinction
between the genres.”
Why would fashion designers turn to machines?
can deny the increasing effect technology is having on our world, but how that
technology affects our everyday lives varies greatly. Each designer has
different motivations for exploring the mechanical realm, whether those
motivations are philosophical, practical or experimental.
“There is a current phenomenon where designers are looking to machines as an
operating form as opposed to something that is exploited for its streamlining
abilities and mass production. They are using them as a way to develop the
design process into new and unexplored territories, trying to find a way to
customize the craftsmanship a little bit more.”
The exhibition features
14 designers, working both independently and collaboratively. Some were followed
by the curators throughout their creative process or found with already finished
works, while others were commissioned to do specific machine-related
The two Israeli designers in the exhibition, Yael Taragan and
Dana Farber with Galya Rosenfeld, came up with concepts and were invited to
complete them for the exhibition.
All the designers worked to produce
items that were neither fully mechanical nor fully couture. Rather than simply
adding mechanical elements to pre-existing trends in fashion, the designers
attempted to fuse essences of the two contrasting processes.
insists that machines and couture are not just labels for certain products but
that they represent concepts of creation, and the fusion of these concepts
produces a completely new set of forms.
The exhibition is divided into
* Designer + Machine = Product
* Concept = Machine = Product *
Product = Machine
* Designer through Machine = Product
Taragan falls under the
category of Concept = Machine = Product. She earned a BA in philosophy, then
went on to study fashion design at the Shenkar College in Tel Aviv.
project, Biometric, Biographic
, reflects her broad interests, and she describes
herself as a “designer/researcher in the fashion field.” Biometric, Biographic
was created in response to a law that recently passed the first stages of
legislation in Israel that would mandate the creation of a fingerprint database
of all citizens for security purposes.
“The work shows three men’s
jackets hooked with a new device that scans fingerprints off clothes. You can
scan the clothes and see on the screen the people who touched this garment – who
made it, who touched you on the subway, all kinds of fingerprints that the owner
of the jacket left. You can tell the story of the clothing,” she
And Taragan’s work is not the most unusual in the
exhibition. The robots designed by Dai Fujiwara are dressed in garments
designed and inspired by deconstructed Dyson vacuum cleaners. Fujiwara (creative
director for Issey Miyake) worked with James Dyson to develop the technology for
Another designer, Despina Popadopoulis, presented Masai
Dress. It looks like an ordinary dress but acts as a machine that produces a
recorded sound element.Mechanical Couture
addresses a wide spectrum of
social and sociological subjects, but the focus of this exhibition seems to be a
shift in the design process rather than just the new designs
The curators hope that by experiencing the exhibition,
“anyone can learn something about the design process in
general.”Mechanical Couture runs through till January 8 at the Design
Museum Holon, www.dmh.org.il/default.aspx