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A talk about Fashion Tech and Bio Design with Lining Yao

WithLining Yao, Meet the Media Guru look for the first time at fashion to probe and survey the innovation scenarios that affect it. The forerunner of this research is a young and successful Chinese designer or Mongolian origin, who on Wednesday 7 June at 7.30 pmwill give a talk at Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci (via S. Vittore 21, Milano). Sign up for the event.

Yao’s work revolves around the intersection between interaction design,engineering anddigital manufacturing to produce innovative interfaces – the so-calledLiving Materials – starting from biologic material. A former student of Hiroshi Ishii head of the MIT Media Lab and co-director of Tangible Media Group where Lining recently completed her Ph.D., Yao’s main focus is “programming” the physical state of a material much like a software programmer. This means defining its shape, colour, stiffness, density and texture, just to name the most evident characteristics.

Within the scope of project bioLogic, whose final goal is synthesising “bio skin”, Lining Yao invented and produced Second Skin, a “live” t-shirt able to react to the needs of its wearer. For instance, Second Skin can react to the increase in body humidity – mainly sweat – thank to very tiny gaps fitted in the weft, that open allowing heat to dissipate. When humidity levels go back to normal, the gaps close and prevent heat from escaping.

Such an incredible performance is allowed by the presence in the t-shirt fabric of a bacterium, called Bacillus Subtilis Natto, which expands and shrinks depending on the humidity in the environment. Lining Yao discovered this entirely reversible function. As she grasped the potential of her discovery, Yao immediately looked for an application in fashion design and, consequently, in manufacturing. Second Skin immediately appeared as the perfect application for the sportswear industry, though the ability of Bacillus Subtilis to turn the shape and size of a fabric can be applied to dozens of other different clothes.

Second Skin won several awards, including the 2016 Red Dot Award in three different categories: Textile, Fabric, Textures, Patterns and Cloth Design; Wearable Technologies Design and Fashion, Apparel and Garment Design; it is but one of the projects Lining Yao will talk about on 7 June at Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia (via S. Vittore 21, Milan). The meeting will provide the opportunity to delve deeper into the open scenarios ushered by Living Materials and the broader sector of Bio Design for fashion and wearable technologies in general.