Sunday, November 15, 2009

Technology's Effect on the Collision between Architecture and Fashion

Although Sung Goo Yang is the leader of the Korean death metal band Crimson, he is first and foremost an architect. Yang recently showed the interplay of architecture and fashion in his project Vogue House (pictured below), which is a structure that moves like fabric and shows off its threads to the effects of the wind. In the most recent issue of the "avant guard" design magazine Surface, Yang said, "As we use technology to introduce new ideas about flexibility in design, the similarities between architecture and fashion increase."

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Most architects and fashion designers agree that technological innovations allow for this collision between the two disciplines. We are able to see freer forms of design, as architects and fashion designers borrow from each others' fields. New technology lets these creative artists use materials and space in any way they want: Designers are no longer confined to the limited space directly surrounding a person's body, and architects can create structures that aren't monumental. Technological innovations let architects work on smaller scales using fabric-like material. On the other hand, designers can create garments of more massive proportions with harder and more rigid materials. Architects like Yang now have the chance to make their elaborate structures appear fluid, whereas designers can use recent technological developments to make clothes seem garish and architectural.

These days, intricate details can be seen on both buildings and clothes due to the new forms of creating design. Designers don't need to waste their time meticulously cutting shapes into their fabrics: Now, machines can do this for them. Also, architects don't need to spend hours working on complex computer versions of their models. Take for example Frank Gehry. Gehry and his colleagues are now known to put sensors on every key point of their structural models. These sensors translate the models into their digital forms so that Gehry and his team don't have to sit in front of the computer screens clicking away for days. Technology not only makes things easier for architects and designers, but also allows them to come up with designs that are high-tech and innovative.

One of the newest and most-talked about novelties in the artistic world is New York-based architect Forrest Jessee's "Sleep Suit." The Sleep Suit is a good example of an architect creating something that isn't a building. Jessee designed a cocoon-like suit to save "more than seven hours of resting and dressing rituals per day." He used structural pleats made of EVA foam (the same material used for padding in sports gear) to support the body in all the right places. The suit is adjustable and portable and allows for constant air flow when sleeping in any position - sitting down, against a wall, on concrete.

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The Sleep Suit challenges the role of private and public space, which is usually made distinct when looking at buildings and clothes in general. The similarity between buildings and clothes lies with the fact that they separate the private from the public: Clothes cover up one's body, while buildings cover up groups of bodies. The Sleep Suit stands as as an object that counters the traditional definitions of architecture and fashion. Because of this, the suit has received critical acclaim among artists of the creative world.

The Sleep Suit, which can also be seen as a "fashionable", new-age outfit, demonstrates architecture on a small scale with the human body's place in regards to its surroundings. Critics praise the suit for having used technological innovations to show the interconnection between architecture and fashion. Technology allowed for the successful testing of the suit material (its key component), including the incorporation of an air ventilation system. In the end, it is technology that made the Sleep Suit structurally successful.

Architects come up with conceptual studies like Jessee's Sleep Suit all the time. The question is, who would actually use a product like this, yet alone buy it? The idea behind the suit is interesting and the suit itself looks cool, at best. Technological innovations do allow for advancements in artistic areas such as architecture and fashion. Artists also agree that technology helps mesh the two disciplines together, even though I believe it's sometimes to an extreme extent. But in the end, buildings should look like buildings, and clothes should look like clothes. Sometimes, as seen with Forrest Jessee's Sleep Suit, a cutting-edge design can actually take away the simplicity and practicality of things. I'd much rather have my privacy and take a nap in bed than worry about putting on the Sleep Suit and being distracted by people staring at me.

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