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An interview for Société Perrier

Courtney Lochner from Société Perrier comments and asks the following question:
‘The world is getting exponentially smarter. Your phone alone can tell you how to walk from your house to anywhere on the planet, what the weather will be like for the journey, and even what to wear. Cars, computers, robots, they’re all getting smarter. But what about fashion — can it get smarter?’
An answer to that question is given through the work of our design in the article: Diffus: Fashion with intelligent Design.
Read the whole article:

Interview Questions for Diffus

Can you tell as a little bit about how Diffus was created and how it has evolved?

Diffus was created around 2002 as an academic collaboration between art historian Hanne-Louise Johannesen, teaching  “Visual culture and digital aesthetic” at the university of Copenhagen and architect Michel guglielmi, teaching projects at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Schools of Architecture and Design.
In the beginning, Diffus hosted common workshops and allowed creative thinking and theoretical publications on topics related to tangible media.
Diffus has from the beginning and continuosly been committed to combine theory and practice. The success of combining research and experimentation soon implied that we had to extend our activities and get involved into the making of design as well.
Still today, our conceptual and theoretical approach to design and to pragmatic solutions is our main asset. We are recognized by our projects, which often involve technologies rarely used in the realm of design.

What are some of your most memorable projects (1-2 examples)?

Diffus is a multidisciplinary design office.
Here are 2 projects related to fashion:

The Climate Dress:

The Climate Dress is made of conductive embroidery, over hundred of tiny LED lights inserted into the embroidery, a CO2 sensor and an Arduino Lilypad microprocessor. The LEDs visualize the level of CO2 in the nearby surroundings and are powered trough the embroidery!
For The Climate Dress we used soft conductive thread that has a similar consistence to the kind of thread used for traditional and industrial embroidery production. This way it is possible to make embroidery that become more than an esthetical element in clothing and interior textiles.
The embroidery becomes functional conveying electricity and computer information and thereby gives “power to the dress”.
The dress senses the CO2 concentration in the air, then accordingly creates diverse light patterns varying from slow, regular light pulsations to short and hectic. The technology, which integrates ”soft circuits” into the production of embroidery, is an innovative process. It is the result of a fruitful collaboration with Swiss embroidery company Forster-Rohner, the Danish research-based limited company Alexandra Institute and finally the Danish School of Design. The industrialization of the production process of soft circuits has been a milestone offering new possibilities to work with intelligent textiles. It has helped Diffus to achieve an importent goal: To support the interaction between human and computer technology in a non-screen-based environment – an environment with physical and sensual qualities appealing to our human intuition and adapted to our daily life.

Eclipse (Solar bag):

Eclipse is a solar cell bag that harvests solar energy to supply power for your mobile devices as well as a light inside your bag.
With the boom of environmental consciousness, bags with integrated solar cells that charge your mobile phone or laptop will become commonplace. An existing solution is to fix slim, flexible solar modules onto a messenger style bag, but the result is non-integrated in appearance. We have developed a high-end fashion handbag through a cross-disciplinary development of textile surfaces with solar sequins.
Aesthetic and functionality goes hand in hand:
During daytime hours, one hundred mini-solar power stations distributed across the surface of The Solar Handbag generate enough electricity to charge a mobile device, as well as a powerful lithium ion battery hidden within a small compartment. When opening the bag at night or in dark surroundings, optical fibres that are attached to the inside of the bag are activated. A diffuse glow is created to assist in the search for keys, purses or other objects. bag that harvests solar energy to supply power for your mobile devices as well as a light inside your bag.

Tell us about your inspiration for interactive light fashion.

Concerning light, we are attracted by the idea of light as a material in its own right. Light in this sense has a physical, sensual and almost haptic presence. Think about the light, that penetrates into cathedrals trough stained glass windows.
We are inspired by the relationship between digitality and materiality. The “mix” of digital and physical materials results in unique hybrid materials on its own right, which epitomizes today’s Zeitgeist. We are for example fascinated by  the possibility to merge soft circuitry with  IT technology and craft to create poetical and sensual experiences never seen before.
We find inspiration in both the emerging digital culture, which unfolds around us, but also in the history of art and in the roots of the 20th centry’s avant gardes.
Concerning the interactive part of our projects, we are inspired by the possibility to imagine responsive garments that adapt to context, moods or environmental changes.
Garments have now the potential to truly reflect changing emotions, and become an interface between your body and the world around you. The garment becomes a mean for story telling.

How did you go about creating the Climate Dress and do you have plans for more like this?

The Climate Dress was an opportunity to start a longtime collaboration with Forster Rohner, a sophisticated Swiss embroidery factory, pourveyor of exclusive fashion houses like Chanel and Prada. The manufacturer had a vision to extend their know how in the field of technologic textiles and was eager to find out how such technology could evolve into future applications, among other in the fashion industry. The climate dress showed the way to how design driven innovation could be applied in their R&D department.
It also demonstrated that it was possible to apply those new technologies to the realisation of concrete products to be launched in a near future.
The result was beyond our wildest expectations. It  became a media hit and also helped to generate new knowledge and innovation ready to be applied in upcoming production processes.
Our collaboration with Forster Rohner is ongoing and we now built further opun the knowledge that we have gathered. Our long term collaboration has now resulted in an evolvement from prototyping unique objects to the realisation of commercial items, which take advantage of the new production metodologies.

What’s next for Diffus?

We are now creating a series of items in the field of fashion, product and interior design thet seen and experienced together are telling a story of a new and broard aesthetic environment imagined by Diffus: An aesthetic environment, which allies craft and technology, sensuality and digitality.An environment where the digital experience gets freed from cold plasma screen and other high tech materials distancing us emotionally and poetically from the product.
One project responding to that philosophy is Wall-E(emotion) that is a modular system of textile disks that have been embroidered with conductive yarn to generate sensory outputs including light, sound and smell across a custom made surface.
Wall-E is a modular system that can be used as a window curtain, a room divider, a sound installation and a light source. Sensory disks can be added, removed or re-configured to change the layout of a Wall-E array. The modular system provides opportunity for patterns and sensory functions to be added as new applications emerge and technologies such as OLED and printed responsive surfaces are developed.
Modern appliances are increasingly collected as design objects within the home, accepted and celebrated as a necessary evil for modern life. Wall-E creates an easily transformable and configurable system of appliances able to contain different functionalities within a networked array of soft, repetitive disks acting as smart power and information hubs. Individual appliances are transformed into an organic network with interrelated functionalities that is highly appealing to our senses.