Computational Couture revisited

mary_huangNot to be confused with the Computational Couture event I wrote of before, Grace sends word of Mary Huang, a quasi curator of computational design. Actually, she uses the word “couture” but we know I don’t like that. heh. Huang defies a fast scan or redux, not much help for my overclocked cognitive processing today -I thought fashion was supposed to be easy.

Her work is prodigious, spanning philosophy, art and technology. For example, at right you’ll see an image of her D dress -made from an app that will export a cutting pattern from a picture you draw and sized to your measurements. Fund raising for the project is underway on Kickstarter.

Sure, there will be challenges particular to the process which she can scarce imagine at this point (minimally that people lie about their measurements even to themselves) and other entities are also working on similar projects with demonstrable results but it’s fun. Really, try the app, it’s live now. It’s not 100% ready to go but you can draw a dress and save your results.

Another bit of cleverness in my opinion, is the matter of building via triangulation (good luck sewing it). We don’t do that anymore, or not much of it. Another tack: I must confess that her admission of having a friend (another designer) develop the sizing algorithm, struck cold, hard and immutable fear in my heart. As you know, if she could do that, she could lay this project by the wayside and retire a millionaire.

On her blog are intriguing ideas to ponder:

…these are superficial user design choices; you are not affecting the core structure of the design. True, you can customize the tech specs of your Mac or PC when you order one, but that is not really the point either. Now, if Nike would make you a shoe that perfectly fit your foot from a 3D scan, that would be more awesome, and is closer to what we’re getting at but still is not quite there…

[…]And in doing this, you are democratizing design; you are creating a tool that lets people design their own product. Digital technology has definitely made it easier for the general populous to be creative…just consider desktop publishing and digital photography. While this has created the lament that “everyone is a graphic designer”, what it really means is that being a designer is now much more about concept and creativity rather than the laborious craft of setting type with scissors and glue. When things become easier, possibilities become greater.

Problem is, easier these days is usually interpreted to mean farming out the making to someone else, the scissor and glue guy or gal who puts the product together. In this way, working people are increasingly objectified; solidified in their stature as mere tools or software in the process. It encourages an increasing rift between design and the nature of what work means. This simply cannot be sustainable. But, I intend no quarrel with Ms Huang. I would think delving into lean manufacturing and the concept of one piece flow would be a natural fit and progression considering her interests.

I hope you enjoy meandering around a bit, I’ll be poring over it for days to come. There’s lots to feed on.

OT: Congrats to Grace on her Atlantic blogging debut

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3 comments

  1. anne says:

    I don’t think anyone can understand the concept of “Couture” until they watch a movie like Valentino or the series on Lagerfeld / Chanel. it’s so amazing to watch those drapers and seamstresses in action.What they do has nothing to do with pop culture / design.The problem nowadays is that the word and concept of couture has been co-opted by popular culture and doesn’t have the same meaning.

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