Words and photos by Slava Kozlov
Historically, the three-letter abbreviation WoW always meant World of Warcraft for me (a great game, and a never-ending source of inspiration for our own ‘serious games’). It looks like I will have to learn another meaning, and a very different one – Women of Wearables.
This new WoW is not a game, but a movement that started in the UK to support and connect women in wearable tech (as we figured during our ‘epic’ project with the Nottingham Trent University, the concept of ‘wearable tech’ goes way beyond your usual suspects in form of ‘t-shirt with LED’. The new wave of technologies and practices around them will likely change the very fabric of our life – and so the title of our recent session, of course, the Fabric of the Futures.)
From us and back to the new WoW: it was a complete privilege to be invited to the opening session of the local chapter of this organisation, the WoW Eindhoven, that was held last Friday! It would be very exciting anyway, but it happened to be a completely thrilling experience, as I was the only non-woman at this event!
The initiative was started by two very remarkable ladies – Anna Crosetti from Creative Startup Network (left) and Yelena Kharitonova from Caravan Culture agency (right). Yelena is a long-time friend of Summ()n and in fact was involved in running of one our earliest game, The City of Happiness (back then she worked under the Caviar Rouge brand).
But again, this time it was not about games (unless you treat them very broadly, in the Huizinganian sense). The program of the opening session was stunningly serious, yet also very creative and joyful, thanks to the talents of its two hostesses.
Speaking about ‘hosting’: The event was kindly hosted by onomatopee gallery (aka avant-garde publishing house, and also a good friend of Summ()n). All the participants had need warmly greeted by Pernilla Ellens, gallery manager.
Speaking about participants, there were a lot of them! And then despite later Friday evening AND one of the last days of the famous Glow event in Eindhoven that tends to effectually pull people from any other events! And the hall was tightly packed with ladies full of interest and curiosity!
The program was opened with the presentation by Birgitta de Vos, famous Dutch fashion designer who spent her life in the industry and in many ways helped to shape it in the way it is now.
And it is not without regret that Birgitta was recalling this life in fashion as she is not agree with many (too many, in fact) developments of this fast-moving and fast-eating-everything (including-our-souls) an enterprise. But the speak was not only about lamentations: Titled Out of Fashion | The New Fashion, it was the story about the new project by Birgitta, both the book with the same title and also her new… a movement? a mission? that calls us to rethink the very roots of our relationship with the matter (both mater as ‘fabric’, ‘stof’ in Dutch), but also the matter in its Big Sense.
The second presenter was Claudia Lieshout – not only a friend of Summ()n but also an colleague of mine from Philips Design. Claudia is still with Philips where she leads the team of trend researchers, and specifically focuses on the domains of healthcare and wellbeing.
Due to some technical peculiarities Claudia was presenting from different place, …but her presentation was as top-class as always, very informative and inspiring, full of cutting-edge examples of wearables – including the ones design with women in mind.
Claudia’s take away’s for the future:
The next presenter was Jessica Smarsch, who presented her story about Constructing Connectivity. Jessica is one of the figures who you ‘always knew about but never managed to meet’. I knew about her very interesting projects for a while, and was very pleased to see one of the ‘for real’ during the last Dutch Design Week, during the graduation of the Design Academy here in Eindhoven.
The project was in fact a process, of transforming body movements into a woven fabric, the one that reflected these movements in some way!
I skip here a whole range of tricks and codes that transform A into B, but you could read the whole story in a beautiful thesis Constructing Connectivity that is fully available only.
But the story was not only about the ‘old projects’ (however interesting they could be). Jessica also told about her most recent project, the one she is currently conducting with Philips, and specifically with the team that works on the rehabilitation tools for the patients who experienced strokes. Super interesting, and I hope we agreed to meet with Jessica to explore the ‘connections’ further (as a clinical psychologist in the past I know a thing or two about this notorious ‘mind-body’ relationships.
The last presenter was Dasha Tsapenko from Ukraine (but also from the Dutch Academy Eindhoven where she just graduated from). Dasha told about her project which all is situated in transit: from private body to the public one, from fashion to architecture and back, all in very brave oscillations!
We were in fact lucky to see this project (or installation? or a dance?) in action, as it was presented during the very recent DDW’17 during graduation ceremony.
All in all, it was an amazingly rich program, with interesting individual threads that together weave a really intriguing fabric. The final applauses (and small kadootjes) were very well-deserved! I sense it was definitely not the last gathering of this great community!
A real pleasure to be with the WoW!
This blog post was originally published by Slava Kozlov here.
If you would want to find out more about Women of Wearables Eindhoven chapter and our activities there, get in touch with Yelena Kharitonova, our Eindhoven Ambassador. Connect with Yelena via Yelena van Kharitonova or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to start your local WoW chapter, get in touch with us via email at email@example.com.