Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering & Applied Sciences
Role: Course founder, professor, in collaboration with industry stylist, Laura Zittrain
Integrating fashion design and wearable technology is a course that explores how top fashion, sportswear and lifestyle designers approach designing for wearable desirability, and how we might apply what we learn to design more desirable wearable technologies. Our immersion is part of a broader exploration of whether and how we might – through product design – learn to build products and experiences that better meet people’s existing needs (e.g. expression, identity, performance, comfort, functionality) and also to help them make more responsible decisions (e.g. wearing effective safety gear). Improving our skills in understanding and applying design to improve human comfort, expression and responsible decision-making can apply to many areas beyond fashion and industrial design – from financial planning to healthcare, education and more.
Starting with our pre-trip working hypothesis, at the end of each day we revise our hypothesis based on who we are meeting and what we are learning, and plan how to make the most of the meetings the next day. The topic will explore the intersection of two areas. Instead of digital nomads and sustainable design (2015 focus), this year we will look at: a) how top designers think about designing for desirability, and b) the inflection point at which people adopt a dramatically new design into their lifestyle. We’ll focus on top fashion (e.g. DVF, jeans designers), outdoor gear designers, and materials scientists for the ‘how designers think’ part of it, design historians, everyday people, and extreme athletes for the inflection point part of it (e.g. adoption of an entirely new type of gear).
Schedule and Outcomes
Through morning site visits and afternoon project time, students develop their ideas. Their work on site culminates in final presentations at Parson’s School of Design. Faculty and students collaborate throughout the course. Interested students continue collaborating on this project with faculty beyond the course.
New York City
Our program will be based in central NYC. In the space, students work in a creative, peaceful environment with reliable internet. Example visits include (we will not visit all of these, only one or more examples from each):
– A mix of well-known brands: Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, DVF, Gucci, YSL, J.Crew, Levi’s
– A mix of sport-focused brands: Puma, New Balance, Fitbit, Converse, Burton
– A mix of brands thinking about design in new ways: 3×1 Jeans, Ministry of Supply, Mr. Porter, Mayette, Everlane, Uniform, Nervous System, BetaBrand, Alps & Meters
– A mix of companies innovating in materials: Material Connexion, Modern Meadow (makes leather in labs instead of from animals), Decoded Fashion, The Crated
– Example additional people: extreme users of quantified self products, stylists, tailors, fashion startups and accelerators
– A mix of how we learn to design: e.g. Parson’s School of Design MFA in Fashion, self-experimentation