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Class of 2021: Hybrid Cultures

CAD image of figure floating surrounded by rock-like objects
CAD image of figure floating surrounded by rock-like objects
Marine Renaudineau, MA Material Futures
Written by
Teleri Lloyd-Jones
Published date
09 July 2021

On the Graduate Showcase you'll find a collection of work curated by the UAL Fashion Innovation Agency. Here, we pause on projects that embrace the dematerialisation of design and daily life.

Though it may not appear traditional, Sandra Macijauskaite's work begins with Lithuanian folklore. Exploring her cultural and linguistic heritage, the graduating BA Textile Design student combined those stories and symbols with the metaphor of the blockchain to create digital worlds. "As a Lithuanian native," she explains, "folklore has always been close to my heart... Through communist oppression, many historical archives were destroyed, something still present by the region's lack of references around folklore and mythology. In order to regain this lost heritage and for it to manifest as my own ever-growing understanding of this cultural legacy, I wanted to immortalise the symbols by digitalising them into the codes, part of this blockchain of networks."

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    Sandra Macijauskaite, BA Textile Design
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    Sandra Macijauskaite, BA Textile Design
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    Sandra Macijauskaite, BA Textile Design

Just as digital space allows print designs to explode in form and movement so too it can realise the fantastical elements of folklore: goddesses can be seen in their underwater palaces with floating symbols as furniture. "The juxtaposition between folklore and digital reality was just an organic growth," says Sandra, "the digital realm grew into a demonstration of what Baltic folklore could have been if the culture was never left behind and disrupted."

In dematerialised space we can reimagine lost things and give shape to metaphor. For Marine Renaudineau this makes it a promising place to treat mental health. The MA Material Futures graduate has created Horizon, a space in which to reflect upon and meet your many selves. In a playful, gamified approach, Horizon offers an immersive environment in which "you will be given the ability to shift between different parts of your inner-selves' points of view, allowing you to interact with and unfold their perspectives". Her work is a call to rethink current approaches, a call a diversity of ways to encourage people to take daily care of their mental health.

CAD image of figures sitting in vague other-planetary landscape
Marine Renaudineau, MA Material Futures

Moving from digital world-building we find a project in which virtual technology is a tool for fashion production in the real world. Valerie Epping, MA Material Futures, collaborated with a Savile Row tailors to create digital pattern-cutting technology. Across five controllers, the tailor can pin, tear, mark, fold and cut in digital space – the collection even includes a century-old pair of shears modified with digital sensors.

Valerie Epping

Bespoke VR

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    Valerie Epping, MA Material Futures
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    Valerie Epping, MA Material Futures

Bespoke VR x Norton & Sons allows the tailor to work with clients on the other side of the world and make real-time changes without wasting cloth. But key to the collaboration is sensitive integration that builds on the traditions of tailoring. "I'm trying to empower people to have an interaction with virtual reality that feels intuitive," says Valerie, "it should be a natural extension of the bodily intelligence that they already carry with them."