MEG GRANT [NL/NZ] + ANJA HERTENBERGER [NL/DE] “LACESENSOR DRESSES” (2012)
For some time now the duo Anje Hertenberger and Meg Grant have been paying working visits to the Museum de Kantfabriek (Lace Factory Museum) in Limburg, Netherlands. Through a series of experimentations, they have developed some unique methods for embedding conductive threads into traditional lace making machines. Having seen their previous iterative designs of small conductive lace tableaux, it is a pleasure to discover this “micro” collection of interactive embroidered garments. Three white dresses, decorated with traditional textile crafts poems, make use of the interactive possibilities of the conductive lace to narratives. A tactile lace control interface permits the public to listen to audio recordings of the poems embroidered on each of the individual dresses. Using old and new textile fabrication methods, the designers developed garments at once of their time, yet harkening back to the Victorian puritanism of the cautionary tales of idle hands. You can follow their Lace Sensor Project Blog.
Q: What is your background?
Anja an artist working with images, computers, programming, performance and interactive installations. Meg studied Fashion Design and later became a self-taught web developer.
Q: What led you to your being involved in fashion and technology?
Anja: My first piece using fashion and technology was a CCTV-System on my body. I was interested in how people would react when this system is on a human body with which they can talk and interact.
Meg: I was making things from pixels and code every day, but I was much more used to expressing myself through textiles and clothing, so it just seemed like a natural development.
Q: What kinds of materials and technologies are used and integrated into your designs? Could you describe the process / challenges / advantages of using these particular materials in fashion and garments?
The “LACESENSOR DRESSES” all use bespoke pressure sensors made from conductive lace made especially for the project by the Museum de Kantfabriek in Limburg, Netherlands. We also used an Arduino and WaveShield to produce the audio. Probably the biggest challenge was to get a decent sound signal to travel from the hardware to the speakers along conductive thread. Even though we used extremely high-quality materials, the limitations of conductive thread became very clear to us.
Q: What does technology add to fashion?
In the case of the “LACESENSOR DRESSES,” the clothing itself has a vintage style, and the technology is really hidden. The wearer only discovers the extra technological layer when she interacts with her clothing, so in this case the technology adds an extra layer of storytelling.
Q: If you could have anyone alive or dead wearing your fashion-tech design, whom would you pick, and where would they be?
Our dresses are designed to give a voice to the women who embroidered the original samplers hundreds of years ago, so we’d like them to wear the dresses themselves in the present day.
Q: How do you envision the everyday fashion-tech of the future?
Anja: I hope the technology helps us to create new communication levels to have fun, to de-stress and create more beauty.
Meg: Jet packs!
Vienna, August 2012
Credits: Photography: Pieter Claessen; Video: Michiel Koelink, edited by Anja and Meg; Models:
Daan Bolwijn, Lisa Randoe, Fione van Wijk; Make-up: Tamar Bosschaart; Styling: Louloudi.