Laura Bowker clothes react to environment and feelings (Wired UK)


Lauren Bowker
Lauren Bowker

Materials alchemist

Vincent Whiteman WIRED


WIRED 2015: Next Generation is our annual event dedicated to inspiring young minds, where innovators aged 12 to 18 years old gather at London’s Tobacco Dock for talks, hands-on workshops and Q&As. For more from the event head to our WIRED NexGen Hub.

When Lauren Bowker was studying textiles in Manchester, she fell badly ill. When she got out of the hospital, she told the audience at WIRED 2015 Next Generation, she realised that she was done with catwalks, and that she “wanted to create something with more meaning.” That’s when she started studying chemistry.

“I wanted to know how to produce material that could speak for you,” Bowker said. “A material that could give you an early warning system if you get ill, to give you an indication of how your spine or your muscles are performing.”


Lauren Bowker
Lauren Bowker

Materials alchemist

Vincent Whiteman WIRED


That doesn’t mean that Bowker abandoned fashion altogether. Quite the contrary: while still at university she designed a jacket dyed with a special ink that changed colour, from yellow to black, according to pollution levels.

After some years spent in consultancy, Bowker finally decided to create The Unseen, a fashion house whose aim is “fusing scientific study and creativity”.

“It just tries to visualise unseen things in the environment, with humans, everywhere,” Bowker said.

She still uses her chemistry skills to think up clothes and art objects that transform depending on the environment. One of them, for example, is a fabric whose colours change according to the surrounding pressure.

This compound was originally thought for Formula One — to track aerodynamics by measuring the friction across the surface of cars in real time,” Bowker explained. 


Lauren Bowker
Lauren Bowker

Materials alchemist

Vincent Whiteman WIRED


But The Unseen also wants to bring it up a notch, designing items that use chemistry and digital elements to react to their wearers’s physical and psychological status. A skullcap encrusted with over 4,000 “chameleonic gemstones” can show different colour patterns according to the temperature of the wearer’s head. Another project The Unseen is working on would use an ink tracking brain electric activity.

“It will change colour according to your emotions,” Bowker said. “If you’re sad, it will show blues and red , if you’re chilled it will be  white.”

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17 October 2015 | 5:57 pm – Source: wired.co.uk

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