(Display Name not set)April 2004 Archives

Swarovski SMS chandelier

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A few days ago Swarovski announced a high-tech chandelier that accepts SMS messages from your cell phone and displays them on "crystal strands like a luxurious ticker tape".

VP Nadja Swarovski compares the collaboration on this project to the relationships her grandfather once had with fashion designers like Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. "They would ask for a coating that would make material shine like the Northern Lights and back he went to Austria and created it." More recently, the family's crystals showed up in one of Alexander McQueen's collections.

But despite these references to the fashion world, there was no mention in the press release of adapting the chandelier technology for clothing. I have to believe this isn't for a lack of thinking about it... I can only imagine how gorgeous, intriguing and fun this would be on a couture gown.

Nomadic advertising

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When I first saw a picture of people wearing ads displayed on LCDs over their heads, I thought they looked ridiculous. This was partially based on my preference that wearable computing not turn into a vehicle for ubiquitous walking ads. A lot of it had to do with the rest of their outfits, which included large white shoulder harnesses, silver helmets, large orange sunglasses, sleeveless orange jumpsuits and matching wristbands.

But there's another version of this type of "nomadic advertising" that I think is interesting.

The PIXMAN system consists of an LCD suspended over the wearer's head by a pole that's attached to a backpack. This attachment style makes a big difference. There's something extremely goofy-looking about a monitor attached directly to a helmet. But the PIXMAN's LCD-on-a-pole seems more like an alien appendage, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Now I do have to say that the systems look pretty heavy. But they weren't designed to be worn by just anyone. The wearers are professional performers. And the dark urban costumes, whose inspiration seems to be a blend of Magritte, the Matrix and some sort of snowboarder militia, offer an overall look that just oozes cool. A mob of these folks coming down the street must be pretty effective.

So I guess I'm saying that if there's going to be wearable advertising, I'll take mine as performance art.

(un)Fashion

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Tibor and Maira Kalman's book (un)Fashion is the result of Tibor's desire to "catalog his giddy obsession with mankind's ingenious expression". With only a handful of words and hundreds of photographs of clothing and costumes from around the world, I get something different out of this book every time I pick it up.

The pictures are grouped into high-level categories based on:

  • parts of the body (eyewear, footwear, etc.)

  • type (accessories, underwear, uniforms, body art, etc.)

  • function (garments used to carry other humans, modesty, etc.)

  • context (work, play, death, etc.)
  • The variations within each category, as expressed through different lifestyles and cultures, are fascinating. "Work" includes photos of traditionally-dressed chimney sweeps in France; a Samoan businessman dressed in a shirt, tie and skirt; a Peruvian man carrying what must be a 150-pound fish on his back; and two French cocktail hostesses wearing black leotards and dresses made of translucent tiered serving plates holding tiny cakes. "Body Art" includes a picture of a tribesman from Papua New Guinea wearing traditional face paint across from a photo of a Nigerian soccer fan who has painted his face and chest with his team's colors.

    These and other visual pairings in the book probe questions of what is appropriate to wear, how we place value on clothing and accessories, and why we adorn ourselves. But if you're not in the mood to do any deep thinking, just toss the book on your coffee table and enjoy the beautiful pictures.

    If you're reading this, then you haven't yet been distracted by the eyeball picture. I applaud you. I also applaud the merging of technology and fashion that resulted in this limited edition phone (only 99 are being made) from Motorola and designer Vivienne Westwood.

    This is exactly the type of product I've been waiting for, and I'm extremely excited about the possibilities that this type of partnership may lead to in the future as we move beyond gadgets and on to garments.

    ***

    My interest in wearables is mostly limited to things worn on, not in, the body, but I just couldn't resist including the "JewelEye". God help me if I ever decide to have jewelry implanted in my eyeball, but apparently there's a waiting list of people who are up for it. The procedure takes only 15 minutes (!) and is said to have no side effects. I can only imagine that this will pave the way for more functional eyeball implants such as miniaturized displays. Eeesh.

    - Both items via notes from somewhere bizarre, a very cool site.

    Damn, I better get up!

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    Thanks to my friend Kenneth, who recently reminded me that that laying motionless for hours with a laptop on your stomach does NOT make it wearable...

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