Talk #3 on ThePop
Wolfgang Langeder gives an insight into his latest project: The Utope Project and tells us about his vision of high-tech fabrics in everyday life.
by Carmen Rüter
CR: What is the utope project?
WL: the utope project is a cooperation between me, and Fraunhofer IZM / Stretchable Circuits in Berlin . Our main focus is to develop a display on clothing, which enables colors, moving images, symbols or stored data from a smart phone which appears on the exterior of clothes.
In general we are interested in creating a fusion of design and technology which is unprecedented and will bring new horizons into fashion design.
CR: How has the collaboration between you and the Fraunhofer IZM / Stretchable Circuits come into being?
WL: As a consequence of my intensive research for possible technological partners in 2009 I came across the Fraunhofer IZM / Stretchable Circuits. I met them by coincidence at the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz in September 2009. We quickly realized that we have a lot in common as smart clothing is concerned and decided to collaborate. In January 2010 we`ve started „the utope project“ .
CR: Do you have a certain vision in terms of high-tech fabrics?
WL: I think future materials like new technical and textile developments bear a lot of new and unusual possibilities. I´m committed to the immense potential which will cause significant changes in the way we use and think clothing within the next years. This will also have a strong impact on the fashion business.
We`re already experiencing technological devices getting more and more important in our daily life. So it is time to do the next step and integrate them in our clothing.
CR: What is your special interest in the relation between future materials and clothes?
For me as a Designer it is very interesting to react on this evolution, to be part of it and to determine and define this change. As far as material is concerned, it`s my vision to connect „the old an the new“.
I´m thinking of combination of traditional materials (silk or wool-loden i.e. already has intelligent functional characteristics), high-tech fabrics (flexibility, stretchability, breathability, body-climate) and technological components ( the display, sensoring and further electronical devices), always bearing in mind the „green aspect“ of all this components.
CR: What`s your professional opinion on the current use and debate of high-tech materials in fashion?
WL: As long as they are only used as „decoration“ or as a short-term eyecatcher, it will make no sense.
In my point of view the get together of hig-tech materials and smart textiles needs a strong conceptional background:
It`s all about merging clothing concepts originating in sportswear with contemporary and utopian ideas of fashion and people`s needs.
CR: How do you imagine the utilization of, for example, the Cybernomade-Suit in everyday life?
The Cybernomade- Suit is an intelligent technical device for everyday life. On the one hand you can use it as an easy on hand addition for your smart-phone and access information on the display i.e. as a smart visual indicator for incoming calls instead of annoying ring-tones.
On the other hand you can apply the visuals effects of the display as a lifestyle-gadget for going out in the evening. Wearing the suit, you won´t remain unnoticed for sure.
The Cybernomade-Siut has an integrated circuit board which is stretchable, moisture-resistant and very energy-efficient. That means wearing the jacket is comfortable. It´s not necessary to remove the electronic components for cleaning and there is energy for about 10 hours what makes its handling quite user-friendly.
At the moment we are working on further applications of the display like for example the visibility, security in the dark, a warning device/alarm system or human to human interaction.
CR: Would you disclose the next steps in the development of the Utope Project?
WL: We´re developing a totally new light-pixel to broaden the range of the visual presentation on the display and keep solving „little problems” like the use of more pixels, enhanced energy supply or advanced cleaning and washability of the system, but I´m sure we are on a good way.
Our further plans are to establish a new brand and to launch a first men`s smart fashion collection in 2012.
We`re thinking of the creation of a longer lasting collection of cutting edge design pieces, which will undergo a technological update every year ( like in product- and industrial design or in the computer- and smart phone sector ).
So it will work not as fast as it usually does in high fashion. It is important for me to have enough time to make every piece “perfect” concerning design, technology, functionality and usability and to design real and profound values.
So let`s wear the future , I would say …