Issue #3(13) 2017 Lounge

Dressing up for space

Food Keeper design by Sam Martin-Harper, Ravensbourne, UK.
Food Keeper design by Sam Martin-Harper, Ravensbourne, UK.
Annalisa Dominoni Politecnico di Milano, Italy
Benedetto Quaquaro Politecnico di Milano, Italy

How do you make space research more attractive for the non-space community and draw more people into this exciting future? One answer is to seek out unlikely collaborations and this is just what the European Space Agency (ESA) did for its ‘Couture in Orbit’ project in conjunction with the Design School of the Politecnico di Milano, Italy. In this case, students were inspired to produce cutting-edge design work, looking at what space adventurers might wear in the future and how it might be adapted to suit the needs of space-bound tourists.

The NewSpace economy is looking for new ways of communicating space. In an age crowded with digital innovation mainly involving the movements of our fingers, the space community must find a new language to entice the public and help explain why space research and its impact is so important.

Space exploration offers fantastic scenarios of experimentation that can be transformed and reinterpreted by the language of fashion – an area that is far removed from the scientific world and yet has an important role to play by finding new applications for clothing technologies that can enhance the comfort and performance of people who wear them.

ESA has already addressed this new dynamic with its Couture in Orbit project. To mark the missions of five European astronauts - from Italy, the UK, France, Denmark and Germany - between 2014 and 2016, it organised an innovative event in May 2016 at the London Science Museum involving a fashion school from each of the astronauts’’ home countries.

Students were invited to participate in this unique event by envisioning and creating everyday fashion for a tomorrow’s world, where space travel is common and gravity is not a barrier. Students were also asked to design garments using what they perceive to be future space ‘technology’.

It was also an opportunity to look at the role of technology in relation to fashion and how innovation is incorporated in its production processes. The fashion system has an important and strategic role in this area because, on the one hand, costumes are a strong behaviour catalyst able to drive lifestyles, thoughts and beliefs and, on the other hand, it involves innovation, research and technologies which take shape through smart materials and devices that are integrated into garments.

Find out more about the exciting 'Couture in Orbit' project in the full version of the article, available now to our subscribers!

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