Smart bras: Gray’s Staff to Deliver Workshop on Design & Wearable Tech

Over the course of its 100 year history the humble brassiere has gone through many guises, with two design lecturers from Gray’s School of Art now set to team up with industry partners in Milan to explore its future potential as an example of wearable technology.

Sue Fairburn and Josie SteedJosie Steed and Sue Fairburn will deliver a masterclass on smart bras to postgraduate students at the Politecnico di Milano later this month, in the heart of the European capital of fashion, design and style.

The workshop will explore how the rapidly expanding market of wearable technology enables new opportunities for intimate clothing, with the students encouraged to imagine garments capable of more than just monitoring an individual’s vital signs and look to the true potential that lingerie combined with technology might offer.

The Robert Gordon University (RGU) academics, who will provide students with the design framework, are also working in partnership with multinational sensor manufacturer ST Microelectronics and lingerie company Yamamay, with the ultimate aim of creating a product for retail.

Themes to be explored by the students will focus on intimacy versus vulnerability; protection versus performance; sensuality versus sexuality; and freedom versus fit.

Course leader of Gray’s Fashion and Textiles course, Josie, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for us to enhance our international reputation in the field of smart textiles, fashion and wearable technology.

“The Italian fashion and textile industry has many parallels with Scottish produced textiles and digital design products and this is a very exciting opportunity to learn from each other and see what ideas come out of the masterclass.”

3D design lecturer Sue added: “Since it is 100 years since the patenting of the bra, we see this workshop as an exciting way to infuse new life into this staple garment and bring it into the 21st Century.

“Design programmes at RGU have always had strong links with industry and we see this as a natural extension of that approach which will open up new European partners, both academic and industry, to the university.

“We also already have good ERAMUS links with Milan so this is a great way to build on those and extend them into post-graduate level teaching at a highly recognized university.”

Josie added: “In the future, we would love to set up a similar event with Scottish retailers and technology companies and would be delighted to discuss the possibilities of doing that with any interested collaborators.”

The invitation to deliver the workshop follows the completion of a number of successful projects involving both researchers which explore smart textile and smart product applications including MIT (Molecular Imprinted Textiles), FTV (Future Textile Visions) and Design Specks. They have also recently completed a research network project, Second Skin, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

All of the projects have brought together international experts in design, ethnography, textiles, computing and health sciences to explore and generate new possibilities in the area of wearable technology.

The workshop will take place between November 24 to 28 at Politecnico di Milano.

Release by
Jenny Rush

Communications Officer | Design and Technology

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