AMSTERDAM, Netherlands — Technology is the link between the endless horizon of our imagination and the resources available to us. Fashion designer and maker Meg Grant demonstrates that such powerful connection can become wearable.
Today based in the Netherlands, Meg Grant studied fashion design in New Zealand and moved to Europe to become an expert in web development. This was the stepping-stone of Meg’s expertise in fashion technology, as she was able to use the screen as a different medium to develop her creativity and craftsmanship. It did not take long for Meg to combine her two passions; soon enough she found herself embroidering programmes onto fabric and using electronic components decoratively.
“I’ve always loved the aesthetic of technology and electronics in particular, but I wanted to know more about how they actually worked”, said Meg, who found her inspiration when she participated in a workshop introducing the Lilypad Arduino toolkit – a set of sewable electronic pieces that create soft interactive textiles. Since then, Meg began to actively explore how wearable electronics influence our relationships with the world around us, which is why the aesthetics of electronic components is a recurring theme in Meg’s work.
Her signature creation
Based on her concept of ‘wearable technology’, Meg has collaborated in a wide range of innovative projects. However, her signature creation is the ‘Secret Keeper Gloves’, which consists of a pair of gloves covered in silver embroidered circuitry. With a simple arrangement of batteries, a microchip, a speaker, a microphone and a LED indicator – all elegantly hidden inside the comfortable gloves – the wearer can record anything by pressing the palms together and then play it back by simply making a hand gesture. This is without a doubt a playful way of creating emotional bonds between human behaviour and clothing by using creative technologies.
The combination of the embroidered circuits does not look at all ‘technical’ and allows the use of natural gestures in a wearable interface”, explained the designer.
When asked about the public’s reaction to such innovative and extraordinary designs, Meg expressed her optimism on people’s fascination with the future which allows them to get very excited with the idea of wearable technology.
In Meg’s opinion, the fashion world has shown more interest in computer technology over the last few years, a trend mainly led by independent designers. “When these independent designers collaborate with engineers and technologists, true innovation can happen, not only in fashion, but in engineering, too. At its best it is a two-way exchange”, continued Meg, who is a founding member of the v2_ eTextile Workspace in Rotterdam.
Promising design projects
Meg Grant’s new projects include the collaboration with sound designers on the development of a ‘sound textile’ covered in tiny speakers. ‘Solar Fiber’ is another on-going project that involves a photovoltaic fibre that can be made into textile solar panels. “This is still it the beginning stages technologically, but is so exciting because of the potential impact it could have on energy problems”, expressed the designer and teacher of Smart Textiles at Rotterdam’s Willem de Kooning Academie.
Yet, the initiative that will allow more fashion designers to have a positive hands-on experience with electronics is the ‘Manifold Project’. Together with physicist Peter Tettelaar, Meg is looking at developing flexible circuits specially aimed at textile and fashion designers. In Meg’s words, “We want to make foldable, cuttable, sewable circuits that are easy to adapt for quick prototyping and experimental design projects”.
One of the best characteristics about technology is that it really has no limits. Fortunately, thanks to the creative talent of designers like Meg, the frontiers of the fashion industry can also be endlessly expanded.