Fashion Tech brought to Life
Exploring the work and journey of Anouk Wipprecht
Anouk Wipprecht is an artist, designer, and engineer. Her work entwines the worlds of fashion and technology and challenges our relationship with the garments we wear. She explores robotic couture, experiments with sensory experiences, and creates futuristic fashion that empathizes with how we perceive the world and interact with it.
Anouk’s worked with groups like the Black Eyed Peas, Cirque du Soleil, AutoDesk, and is now at Microsoft Research Labs as an artist in residence. Thanks to a collaboration with CODAME ART+TECH, we were lucky enough to have her stop by Salesforce last week to speak and showcase her work. I also sat down with her to talk about her process and learn more about her journey into the emerging world of fashion tech.
These are the highlights —
The Journey to Fashion Tech
Anouk began as a fashion design student in The Netherlands, passionate about what people could say by the clothing they wore. As soon she arrived to her studies, however, she developed a strong dissatisfaction with the practices and philosophies of the fashion industry that taught to mass manufacture design and deprive people of the best quality garments.
“It felt a little bit evil in a way. I expected fashion to be empathic, a way to help humans understand each other better. The industry itself can be a pretty evil machine in many ways.”
In a search for inspiration, Anouk found robots,
“On the other hand, you have robots — technology which is perceived as evil by the means of science fiction but I felt different…there was something wrong here.”
Fabric wasn’t expressive enough. Anouk wanted to make something that felt fluid, personalized and interactive. “As opposed to having an analog dress that could only express a single emotion or message”, she asked, “wouldn’t it be remarkable to have clothing that could communicate with us… and change?” At the core, she discovered, that this was something she couldn’t find in her fashion studies alone but could find in technology, arduinos, and robots.
“I saw interesting systems that could monitor us…nurture us. I wanted those [systems] to not only be in the devices we carried but also in the garments we wore.”
When her instructors first saw her with robot micro-controllers they kicked Anouk out of class and told her it wasn’t fashion and that robotics and fashion together wouldn’t be accepted. Nevertheless, she left to Sweden to pursue her growing interest in fashion tech and began learning interaction design, programming, and engineering.
Courage to be Different
I was fascinated by Anouk’s inclination towards risk and experimentation. In Silicon Valley, risk (and failure) have become suitable norms. For Anouk, however, her dissonance wasn’t as accepted. As she continued to develop her craft, she attributed her courage to be different on the innate basis of being human. As she told me,
“I think [risk and experimentation] is what makes a human. Otherwise innovation and development wouldn’t happen. [It’s about] being able to act on your impulses and having a strong belief in what the world should look like.”
This article was originally written by Ian Schoen and appeared on Medium on May 19, 2015. You can read the rest of the article on Medium.