Seeing the Unseen: When Chemistry Meets Couture

Seeing the Unseen: When Chemistry Meets Couture

Posted 27 February 2015 by Angelique Blankson

Textile alchemist, Lauren Bowker and her team of varied talent including anatomists, engineers, chemists and cutters form The Unseen; a design house that blends biological and chemical matter into materials to demonstrate what can happen when chemistry meets couture.

Their latest project, The Eighth Sense, was recently shown at London Fashion Week and fused science with digital technology to create a sculptural jacket that is able to to read human EEG and biodata, projecting its wearer’s state of mind into visible colour patterns. The serpentine garment is made out of hundreds of hand-painted ceramic fins and coated with the studio’s signature chameleonic ink, which changes colour via electrical conductivity in response to emotions – Red indicating anger or distress, for instance, while blue reflects a sense of calm.

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Unseen_3 Unseen_2This transformational technology has a variety of uses and can be applied to any surface with a range of methods, such as screen printing, painting, or dying. In the past, the customised inks have been used for Air, a series of hand-crafted leather garments that react to environmental changes including UV light, friction and, most recently, levels of the poisonous gas carbon monoxide.

It was also used in a Swarovski headdress that responded to varying energy levels and activity in the brain:

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Bowker and her team certainly seem to be advancing the concept of fabric and its limitations through the application of technological substances onto materials. They are resistant to define their research and experimentations as a part of the wearable technology movement and judging by the contemporaries in their field, its easy to see why. The work The Unseen produces is of a completely different ilk—more radically refined and smartly applied than the fitness wristbands and sweat-wicking shirts that flood the market under the guise of forward-thinking innovation. There is a touch of magic and mystery to everything they create, an effect only heightened by their live demonstrations and totemic, vaguely occult, imagery and sense of design. These scientific developments, compelling enough on their own, are only heightened by the collective’s deep appreciation for nature, which they, in turn, seek to enhance by way of otherworldly materials. An amalgamation of chemistry, artistry, and design, They demonstrate that the future rests in seamless integration to produce spellbinding results that translate the intangible into the terrestrial and I am all for it.

If you are working within the innovative materials or fashion technology space, do get in touch and share your story by tweeting @NirvanaCPH; we’d love to hear more about some of the emerging works and talents of groups like The Unseen.