Meeting at the makerspace with living-textile inventor: Lining Yao

(originally posted on Digicult – versione italiana sotto)

In the last years a new generation of researchers are perceiving the world around us in a different way. They see objects and materials through a multiplicity of properties and features which open different ways to interact with them. They’ve realized that most of the matter is able to respond to energy sources like temperature, moisture, light, pressure, vibration, electricity and this capacity activates a series of possible transformations we can control.

They call them smart materials or programmable matter and their experiments explore how these materials can respond and adapt to environments. At the same time, they are also shaping an alternative way to expand the realm of digital fabrication. The most visible feature of these smart materials is that we can talk about interaction design getting rid of screens, phones and blinking lights because the smartness is programmed in the material itself.

One of the most interesting approach to this field of research is when we can go beyond man-made systems and enter the biological kingdom and this is the focus of chinese-born designer Lining Yao. I stumbled upon the video of her Biologic project published some weeks before where she explains her work at MIT mixing biology, fashion and digital fabrication.

The video shows two dancers wearing Second Skin, a garment developed within the research, which we can see reacting to the change of their bodies’ conditions. When humans exercise our skin is able to take away the excessive heat through sweat and the garments we wear sometimes prevent this process. With Second Skin Lining Yao developed an ecosystem between the textile and the human body because created a bacteria composite, 3d printed it on the flaps of the garment: when the flaps perceive the humidity, they open up to make the skin cool down more easily. Continue reading Meeting at the makerspace with living-textile inventor: Lining Yao