Sartorial Symbiosis

Elizabeth Ervin, Douglas Tsui, Maya Fraser, Gayathri Sivakumar, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning

We imagine a wearable technology that can help us emotionally navigate the world and communicate our emotions to others. One could imagine a jacket designed to help you stay calm. As you sweat, the stiff material of the jacket begins to rehydrate, softening and soothing you. As the jacket senses an elevated heart rate, it gently inflates to compress and calm you.

Our individual experiences in taking studios with Robert Adams, Tszyan Ng, Adam Miller, and Jen Maigret have made us more aware of the importance of clothing as an innovative means to tackle stigma around mental and physical health. We hope to be able to explore more of these ideas through this research in order to advance the current conversation around space, individuality, and mental health.

Building on previous research, our proposal will advance the existing limits of bio-based materials by pairing organics and tech, culminating in the Architecture Student Research Grant Exhibition in February 2023.

Over the summer, we began familiarizing ourselves with growing biofilm, working with the Arduino system, and understanding the current literature. During this semester, we will spend two months doing deep research and preparation, one month creating initial prototypes and small-scale experiments, and one month creating the final garments. The months of January and the first part of February will be devoted to designing the exhibit and creating exhibition materials.

We broke down our research into 3 different areas of interest: Biology, Technology, and Culture. These three elements work together to create a bio-design hybrid. Through our investigations, we will create a catalog of knowledge to share and replicate.