Fashion tech designer Anouk Wipprecht is joining forces with the art and tech nonprofit Codame to run a new R&D studio in downtown San Francisco.
Wipprecht, who has created experimental smart dresses with Intel and Audi, will serve as creative director for Codame Labs which plans to focus on cross-discipline collaboration between the fashion and tech industries. And it could be where the next generation of futuristic smart clothing and textiles is made.
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"The lab will complement our mission to bring together artistic and technical people for shared interactive experiences," said Codame's founder Bruno Fonzi. "With Anouk bringing her expertise in fashion and wearable technology, this promises to be an incredible year, and we look forward to seeing the prototypes the lab inspires our artists to create."
"Codame Labs will be a place where hardware gets tested, robotics get styled, and electronic textiles are crafted in order to push for a new generation of devices that aren't handled but wearable" said Wipprecht, who will consult on fashion, technology, machine learning and interactive design.
The Dutch designer is known for her headline-grabbing garments such as her Spider Dress, a garment with an embedded protection system which keeps others at bay via animated robotic arms that extend to defend its wearer.
"Codame Labs is determined to playfully produce amazing projects by giving artists access to the newest gadgets and tools, including 3D scanners, 3D printers, virtual reality tools, micro controllers, and tiny sensor modules" she said.
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The fashion tech lab is now seeking proposals from designers, artists and engineers considering for its 2016 showcase with a four day festival planned for October. Artists already involved include Behnaz Farahi, creator of Caress of the Gaze, a 3D printed cape that reacts to the gaze of others, and Lisa Lang, founder of bespoke fashion tech startup Elecktro Couture. Anyone who is interested can pitch a project here.
While Codame Labs won't necessarily accelerate wearable tech products, it does promise to foster relationships between designers and brands. This will undoubtedly inform not only the products we're actually buying, but also the processes that bring them to market.
At a time when many wearables are beginning to look and act the same, this art-for-discovery's sake approach may be just what the industry needs to shake things up.