expressive shape-changing clothing

aireForm is a shape-changing dress that uses pneumatic technology to transform the silhouette of our bodies to enhance our shifting emotional personas


high-tech fashion, shape-changing, emotional expression

methods: literature review, concept design, rough prototyping, form experimentation, material development, electronics prototyping
technologies: 2D modelling, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/PremierPro, laser cutting, tailoring, Arduino


how might our clothes become a more dynamically responsive mode of expression?

Our clothes serve as a medium through which we may alter our apparent forms to modify and communicate aspects about our emotions and desires. [1,2] In particular, the structural lines of the silhouette of garments can transform the profile of our bodies [3] - from curving, calm, feminine contours, to angular, assertive, masculine forms [4] - and accentuate our personas. [5]

aireForm builds on research into pneumatically driven shape-changing fashion [6] to create a single dress that can fluidly morph between many of these communicative silhouettes, expressing our shifting personas through the flow of air around our body. By modifying the shoulders, hips and hem, a simple fitted dress can transform into: a sleek confident figure with broader shoulders reminiscent of 1940’s military fashion, a playful supple profile with a wider hemline evoking the A-line style of the 1970’s, and a sensual striking silhouette inspired by the curvaceous hips of the 1950’s hourglass figures.

Pneumatic pillows fabricated using heat-sealed PVC film and activated by textile pressure sensors fabricated from layers of conductive and piezoresistive fabric [7] were integrated into hidden pockets in the dress at the shoulders, hips and hem, allowing the shape-changing technology to be seamlessly embedded into the dress.

Sketches of aireForm’s three emotionally expressive silhouettes
The final inflated design

Schematic of aireForm schematic system
Heat-sealed PVC film pneumatic
Integration of the pneumatic and electronic systems into the design of the dress

A joint project with Ryuma Niiyama, Xiao Xiao and Jennifer Jacobs as part of the MIT Media Lab Other Festival (April 2013)

1. Lurie, A. (1981). The language of clothes (p. 105). New York: Random House.
2. Moody, W., Kinderman, P., & Sinha, P. (2010). An exploratory study: relationships between trying on clothing, mood, emotion, personality and clothing preference. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management, 14(1), 161-179.
3. Barthes, R. (1983). Système de la mode. University of California Pr.
4. Davis, F. (1994). Fashion, culture, and identity. University of Chicago Press.
5. Hollander, A. (1993). Seeing Through Clothes. University of California Pr.
6. Seymour, S. (2008). Fashionable technology: the intersection of design, fashion, science, and technology. Springer.
7. Perner-Wilson, H., & Satomi, M. (2009). DIY Wearable technology. ISEA 2009.