Anouk Wipprecht - Interactive dresses
Nominated by Niki Smit:
Anouk Wipprecht
for Interactive dresses

I nominate Anouk Wipprecht for the exceptional way in which she combines technology and fashion and thereby designs experiences. A confrontation with one of her dresses constitutes an unforgettable event and makes us curious about the future of clothing.

Wipprecht’s dresses redefine what clothes can be: not just an extension of the self-image but also of inner and interpersonal experience. Her designs are about social, emotional and psychological processes. She magnifies subjects such as insecurity, aggression and flirting by developing interaction designs that make innovative use of the latest electronic technologies.

Wipprecht regards technology as an ecosystem. It is evolving along with us. Every day, countless types of technology make our lives easier, more intuitive and more effective. Wipprecht deploys clothing to the same end. She looks ahead to a time when our clothes will work for us, responding to us and our surroundings. She sees clothing as an extension of the self, and this is the theme of the interactions her dresses make possible.

For instance, the Smoke Dress, her latest design in cooperation with the Italian architect Niccolò Casas, plays with ideas of shyness, defence systems and personal space. The garment is characterised by a flowing, organic form and a surprising ability: when someone gets too close, it cloaks itself in smoke, in a process the wearer has no control over. This response is akin to blushing and our natural reflex to cover ourselves when embarrassed. Through this interaction, the garment itself displays human qualities. The Smoke Dress makes us think: what if our clothes could reflect, support, even correct our behaviour?

Each of Wipprecht’s dresses engages with this central idea, and each design constitutes a challenging investigation for her. Beauty and interaction are important, but material choice and the production process are also essential elements in her research. The Smoke Dress was made on a 3D printer by the company Materialise, which allows for the creation of more natural, organic forms. The dress is not assembled out of parts, as fashion that incorporates technology often is. It rolls off the 3D printer in one piece, in a poetic production process that has more in common with natural birth than with mechanical assembly.

Wipprecht often works with interdisciplinary teams of engineers, hackers and artists. One such collaboration resulted in the technological tour de force DareDroid 2.0, a robot dress that mixes cocktails at parties. The dress provides a guest with alcohol only once he or she has overcome shyness and played an intimate game with the wearer.

This kind of interaction is what makes Wipprecht’s work so strong. Her dresses not only respond to people but also elicit reactions from them in turn. Meanwhile, they succeed in being accessible for the general public, rising above the prototype quality that characterises many wearable technologies. Wipprecht shows us how clothing will evolve in the future. She presents possibilities in such a spot-on, intelligent way that we can only look forward to the moment when her visions become everyday reality.

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