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Intimacy Black: hide and show

The second dress from Studio Roosegaarde's Intimacy series continues the project's exploration of the relationship between intimacy and technology, where social interactions determine the level of transparency of the garment.

By Jeanne Tan / 26-08-2010

The idea of personal space is taken to a whole new level with the project Intimacy by Studio Roosegaarde. Comprising two dresses - White and Black - Intimacy uses fashion and the body to explore the relationship between intimacy and technology: the closer someone approaches, the more transparent the dress becomes. In this way, the garment becomes a sort of second skin that allows the body to become a tangible 'interface.' 

"I always talk about sensual technologies, extensions of your skin, and I thought, 'let's use it in a really extreme way; let's use it in fashion.' Fashion, after all, is very much about the tension between hiding and showing," says Daan Roosegaarde, creative director of Studio Roosegaarde. "As technology is already our second skin (the iphone bump in the pocket of our jeans, the almost subconscious presence of our friends' status updates), this project take this second nature to the next level."

The dresses are made from wireless, interactive technologies and smart foils, which can become transparent depending on a certain interaction, such as varying the distance from the wearer. White is made out of white e-foil, and Black out of black e-foil. "It's a plastic sheet, an e-foil made out of crystals which, when slightly powered, become transparent. It uses ten times less than a standard LED. We teamed-up with a manufacturer to make it flexible and UV proof," explains Roosegaarde.

He discovered the material while on a visit to a lab where flexible screens are developed. The material - which was lying unnoticed in a corner - was useless to researchers as all it did was turn from white to transparent. Curious to its potential, Roosegaarde took it home to experiment with. Since then the material has been developed to be dimmable, more flexible and UV-proof.  

"It's about presence. The idea is to really make that physical, rather than expressing it with LEDs on a screen or something like that," Roosegaarde continues. "I think we’re developing towards a world in which local intelligences will 'talk' to each other through wireless connections; they could be objects or your cell phone. In this world of information, in which everything talks to everything else, there is a great transparency."

Intimacy was designed in collaboration with fashion designers Maartje Dijkstra (White) and Anouk Wipprecht (Black). The series is intended to keep evolving, with the first two dresses to be exhibited at the Centraal Museum Utrecht from 22 September. And what's the future of this 'smart' fabric? "Besides fashion, we are working with a similar design principle on a large-scale interactive building facade, which will be launched in Asia begin 2012."

The project is made in collaboration with V2_ in Rotterdam.

Intimacy White was featured in the exhibition Pretty Smart Textiles. Read our article about it here.

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