expressive shape-changing clothing

Awakened Apparel is a shape-changing skirt that uses novel material technology to integrate soft actuators into clothing that can transform its functionality and emotional expression


high-tech fashion, shape-changing, emotional expression

methods: concept design, rough prototyping, form experimentation, material development, academic writing
technologies: 2D modelling, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop/PremierPro, laser cutting, molding & casting


what if our clothing had the agency to adapt to the situation moment by moment; transforming its functionality as well its mode of expression?

Fashion is a means of self-expression and an interface with the external world; it can serve as a functional barrier to the elements, but also as an aesthetic expression of our identity and behaviour. Yet our clothing is somewhat static; any modification we make through unzipping our sweatshirts or rolling up our sleeves are manual and performed by ourselves.

Awakened Apparel is a skirt inspired by the dynamic shape-changing transformations of origami, using laminated inflation channels embedded into the very fabric of the skirt to create a more softly actuated emotional shape change.

Experiments in different origami folds and inflation techniques led to the development of a new soft pneumatic material that used heat-sealed layers of anti-static film, paper and fabric fusing material to create inflation channels directly embedded into the skirt. Cutting these channels into a modified Miura fold and fusing them alternately on the top and underside of the skirt enabled the skirt to fold when inflated, allowing the form to shift to the emotion and functions desired by the wearer.

Vision sketch of the shape-changing skirt in its many forms
Inflated detail of final skirt
Final skirt prototype - deflated and inflated

Early curving origami experiments
Early designs for integrating a Miura origami fold into a skirt panel

Vision sketch of the shape-changing skirt in its many forms
Inflated detail of final skirt
Final skirt prototype - deflated and inflated

Final design for skirt inflation folding pattern - red
channels are affixed to the underside of the fabric, blue
to the topside
Final design for fabrication of heat-sealed inflation channel layers


presented at corporate workshops & academic conferences

Published at 8th International Conference on Tangible, Embedded and Embodied Interaction, Munich February 2014

A project by Philippa Mothersill, Laura Perovich & Jenny Broutin Farah developed at the MIT Media Lab as part of the MIT Mechanical Invention Through Computation course led by Chuck HobermanErik Demaine and Daniela Rus (May 2013)