A garment making process that translates bodily movements into clothes

Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Jessica Smarsch has digitally captured muscle movements and used them to create bespoke textiles for her fashion range.

From the Series

Design Academy Eindhoven (DAE) graduate Jessica Smarsch is putting the human touch back into fashion.

Her graduate project “Constructing Connectivity” digitally captures muscle movements and translates the data into woven patterns for a range of clothing.

To create the garments, Smarsch attached a wireless wearable armband onto a dancer to track their muscles movements. The armband sent electrical readings from the muscles movements to bespoke visualisation software. The result was a monochromatic graphic interpreting the movements. The graphic became a blueprint for weaving the fabric through a loom using a double-layer weaving process.

Rhythm, movement, and repetition are key processes in textile making and each garment in the collection represents an individualised interpretation of this rhythm movement and motion. The young designer is focusing on the role of the human experience in the creation of textiles and reclaiming handmade textiles through this high tech design approach.

“‘Constructing Connectivity’ uses textile design as a medium for achieving mind body connection,” says Smarsch. “Digital tools bridge the gap between the designer and the machine, unifying craft and production through the body.”

The graduate was inspired by preindustrial revolution textile production such as the 18th century inhabitants of the Hebridean islands of Scotland. The women on this island would create felt by pounding wool fibres with their hands and feet while moving their bodies to song.  Their motion would influence the resulting textile. 

The current scale of industrial textile production is so large makes it difficult for handcrafted materials to compete but Smarsch is reintroducing human involvement into the production of textiles by creating a new understanding of “handmade” fabric.

Smarsch graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and worked in New York City for ten years. She moved to the Netherlands in 2012 to pursue a master degree at DAE.

“Constructing Connectivity” was exhibited at Design Academy Eindhoven as part of Dutch Design Week, which took place from 17 to 25 October.