The collection is about departure, absence, and fading memories.
It is my way of seeking resolution for the loss of my grandmother, someone to whom I’ve never said goodbye. I wanted to visualized my memory of her through colors.
However, the existing color-making methods, either natural or synthetic, have a fairly negative impact on the environment. Natural dyes require large amounts of land and water usage; Synthetic dyes are extracted from petroleum. It is a finite resource that cannot be relied upon in the long run. It is crucial to start searching for the colorant of the futurae.
One area I explored was that of Living Dye, a textile dyeing technology that sources colors from microbes. In this collection, I experimented with three pigment produced microbes: S.marcescens for red, M.luteus for yellow, and S.aurantiaca for orange. I used them to dye the materials in this collection.
Working with Living Dye, a biomaterial that grows, has allowed me to ask questions, exposing unique aspects of the design process and the role of the designer. Using living cells that create matter as an integral part of the design process can refresh and inform traditional definitions of design and making processes, on both theoretical and practical levels. Questions that deal with topics like designer’s agency, form finding, and methods of making become redefined when these new materials are added to the design making workflow. As a result, I proposed a new sustainable design strategy – Design with Life.
When people meet a new person or travel to a new place, they will change their usual behavior or daily routines to make themselves fit into the new environment, in another word, they package themselves into different boxes.
It is a very automatic behavior, but I want to translate this behavior into tangible objects.
For this collection, I took a very experimental approach towards garment design and construction. I first chose packaging box patterns that are used for everyday items, such as Chinese food takeout boxes, then laser cut them on various fabrics, such as neoprene, cashmere wool, and satin faced organza, they are all end of stock fabrics donated by fashion houses. Then I gently throw the laser cut fabrics on the dress form, let them drape and crease in the way they want to. At the end, I stabilized the positions of the fabrics either with tailor tacks, or used the existing closures in the box pattern to connect the pieces together.
The inner layers of the garments are more organic and fluent, which balanced the geometric shapes of the box. They represent the true self that is hidden inside. Each inner garment is made of 1.5 yards of fabrics, full color screen printed with waste based inks, and then drape on the dress form. the only fabrics scrapes are cut from the armholes and hems.
One early morning, I went into the forest and got lost. The mist enveloped me. I followed my instinct, and kept going deeper inside. Slowly, I discovered the secrete world of nature, a world that is untouched by human – the thick moss covers the ground like a giant’s carpet; fungus gather together to build many small, but strangely looking structures; its history was written into the sedimentary rocks; the tall, dark green trees as like the guardians of this mysterious land.
I was hunted by nature.
I approached this project by first, make collages using the photos that I took in the forest. Then draw on top of them. I also draped a large knit blanket on the dress form. For the fabric treatments, I found inspirations from my experiment with the plants.