Dutch Fashion-Tech Designer Anouk Wipprecht wants to make fashion ahead of her time, combining the latest in science and technology to make fashion an experience that transcends mere appearances. She wants her garments to facilitate and augment the interactions we have with ourselves and our surroundings. Partnering up with companies such as Intel, AutoDesk, Google, Microsoft, Cirque Du Soleil, Audi, and 3D printing company Materialise she researches how our future would look, as we continue to embed technology into what we wear.
What does it mean to be a Fashion-Tech designer?
I combine technology with fashion, fusing it with interactive design and computer intelligence. When you approach or interact with my designs, they start to cover themselves in smoke, serve you liquids, or even 'attack' you; like the 'Spider Dress' with mechanical limbs on the shoulder blades, which protect the personal space of the wearer -- when you come to close, these legs reach out to 'grab' you; acting on your behalf while monitoring your surroundings. Creating these designs open up an playful conversation on how the garments that we have around our body can possibly help us out.
Your work is a perfect example of the exciting potential that can be reached by combining art with technology -- in which ways does your work draw inspiration from, and contribute to, culture?
Culture is a really important notion in my work with interactive design, as every culture reacts differently to interactive design. Where in the Netherlands people would provokingly test the system, a person in the States might approach the designs more gracefully, and in Asia people often don't even enter the personal space of the model wearing my designs. Culture is also really important in my work in with ‘wearables’, since every culture has something else to solve. While Canada has stronger winters, other countries may have a lot of sun, which easily dries out certain materials or affects certain sensors that I use. The body and its garments are always reacting to variable circumstances.
What role does wearable technology have in the future of fashion?
Technology enhanced fashion, garments, and accessories open up a huge amount of potential in fields of health-care, sport, medicine and wellness. For example, design that can wirelessly measure bio-signals, or monitor your health, or environment, would be able to know more about you and your environment than you would, yourself. As technology is moving closer to the body, we need to rethink what we do with that technology. I think that the 'wearables' that are currently on the market miss the 'fashion' sense in both aesthetic and meaning. Fashion is, for me, an medium of expression and communication, of our identity, our preferences and our statements. This is why I, along with many others in my field, am working on coming up with new ideas to make our devices more sensible, computers more intuitive and accessible, and our wearables more fashionable.
In 2015, you participated in Heart Ibiza; a collaboration between the Adria Brothers and Cirque Du Soleil, that celebrates unions of art, gastronomy, and music; in Spain -- what was your takeaway from this experience, and can you see cross-over events, similar to this, continuing to gain popularity into the future?
Cirque Du Soleil, for example, coming from the theatre and performance perspective, is about using a public space to share stories and dreams, through visuals, but it’s now moving into the social space by making the audience become a part of the experience. During Heart Ibiza, Cirque Du Soleil came in and curated a performance experience, while food was being served, and music, technology and art flourished, within short 5-minute acts. I can remember when Frank Helpin, my contact person, ever inspiring buddy, and Art Director of Cirque Du Soleil, who curated these ideas, came to me with the idea of blending food with emotion. It's a very psychologically-involved notion that they created and experimented with, in which the food that you ate reflected what you could observe in your surroundings. The experimental nature of these collaborations, between the nightclub, performance acts, restaurant and the immersive experience, was really futuristic, and the experience was is hard to convey to others, unless they were there to experience it with you. This makes an evening out, or a dinner, for example, all of a sudden so much more powerful, and this is their identity: to give people an experience they will never forget.
Would you ever consider experimenting with food in your work (eg. edible technology, fashion that cooks…)?
In 2010, I did a project under the name 'Modern Nomads' with Canadian Artist, Jane Tingley, and Norwegian Engineer, Marius Kintel. We also contributed to the cocktail-making robotics festival 'Robo Exotica', which takes place every December in Vienna, Austria, with a 'Cocktail Making Robot Dress' which we called the ‘DareDroid2.0’. The system was composed of pumps, soda and alcohol and when you played a game of 'Truth or Dare' through an interface located on the sleeve of the model’s dress, you got an cocktail shot! This was a fun exploration for us on the topic of collaborating between food and couture, which is still really close to our hearts.
What excites you most about attending this year’s Terroir Symposium?
I think we live in pretty exciting times, in which different disciplines are continuing to become increasingly mixed together with, for example, food that looks like architecture, drinks that function as little science experiments, and main courses that evoke nothing that you’ve ever tasted before. I am very keen on seeing all the creative fusions that the future of food has to offer. With this year’s tenth Terroir Symposium announcing itself as, 'a gathering of dreamers, disruptors and international luminaries in the world of food', I am super curious to see how our future eating habits and ideas on ‘cuisine' can positively turn our world upside-down!