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Rethinking Fabric With Bradley Quinn

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A look from Stretchable CircuitsThree central themes form the crux of Bradley Quinn’s new book Textile Visionaries: technology, sustainability, and innovation. The tome chronicles the work of thirty-six designers from disparate places around the world, each of whom shares a common interest in pushing the boundaries of textile design—and, subsequently, fashion and interiors—forward.

“For fashion to survive in the future, it has got to marry itself to other cultural forms,” Quinn told Style.com. One example is techno-fashion, which he calls a “dream collaboration” that speeds up the way technology can be applied, packaged, or sold. It’s a subject Quinn has been researching since the nineties, a time when designers like Hussein Chalayan would go to tech fairs to see what scientific devices he could make wearable.

“Since then, a dialogue has formed in which people who are designing the techy stuff now have objectives to make technology wearable, so their products will become seamlessly integrated into our lives,” Quinn explains. Below, the author highlights the top five textile visionaries of today, all of which he cites in Textile Visionaries, set to hit shelves on August 27.

CuteCircuit
Remember that twinkling gown Katy Perry wore to the Met ball back in 2010? We have CuteCircut to thank for that. “In ten years time, they’ve really evolved their craft,” Quinn says of the CuteCircuit team, which comprises Italian designer Francesca Rosella and engineer Ryan Genz. Based in London, the duo combines diaphanous textiles and LED technology at a fiber level to create pulsating dresses that can trigger lighting sequences, videos, and more.

Skin Graph
Fashion designer Laura Michaels and partner Karl Kjelstrup-Johnson, an architect, use imaging technology (like motion capture and 3D scanning) to create custom-made garments that factor in movement and posturing. The laser-cut leather and fabric clothes that result suit each individual’s unique contours. “Skin Graph’s clothing fits the wearer as well as any other tailor-made garment would, and has the advantage of moving with the body as though it is a second skin,” writes Quinn.

Dava Newman
“Newman was able to realize that within textiles, there’s huge potential for compassionate applications that can help change individuals’ lives,” Quinn explained. As a pioneer of the compressed BioSuit for NASA, the astrophysicist at MIT has adapted aerospace materials as “second skin” to be applied to individuals with specific diseases, such as cerebral palsy.

Aurélie Mossé
Having studied at both Central Saint Martins and the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, this French designer aims to change the application of interior textiles from fixed, immovable structures to something more sentient and fluid. She uses a wide range of fibers that form, shift, and meld with natural phenomena, like sunlight. “Mossé is also able to bring her fabrics back to the starting point,” offered Quinn—and this, he says, is a key characteristic in textile innovation.

Stretchable Circuits
“The Stretchable Circuits guys in Berlin [technologist Christian Dils, engineer René Vieroth, physicist Thomas Loeher, and engineer Manuel Seckel] are improving the standard of stretchable electronic systems and perfecting them,” Quinn told us of the brand, whose work is pictured above. “They can now be better integrated into fashion fabrics or even submerged in water.”

Photo: Courtesy of Laurence King Publishers

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Dept. of Culture