reactive fall dress by birce özkan defoliates like autumn trees reactive fall dress by birce özkan defoliates like autumn trees
jun 18, 2015

reactive fall dress by birce özkan defoliates like autumn trees

reactive fall dress by birce özkan defoliates like autumn trees
all images courtesy of rebecca enis, model yun bai



what if a sudden rise in temperature caused clothes to start breaking apart? what if they behaved depending on surrounding environmental conditions, or had the ability to sense like a living organism? such questions guided parsons grad student birce özkan to what would eventually become ‘fall’, an interactive garment that mimics responsive systems found in nature.

material close up




millions of trees lose their leaves in a seasonal process called defoliation. as days shorten, and the temperature begins to dip, trees are unable to harness enough light to sustain chlorophyll levels. as a means to survive the cold months ahead, scissor cells are activated, creating a natural layer that destabilizes leaves and causes them to fall.


video by rebbeca enis




the garment is created similarly, using hidden electronic mechanisms. four servo motors are embedded into the back of the garment, attached to a collection of steel wires encased in clear tubes. all along the tubing are tiny holes. at the site of each opening, özkan placed a small dab of melted wax; connecting the steel and individual fabric leaf. when light levels increase or decrease, integrated arduino micro-sensors send signals to the motors, causing them to either accelerate (lower light) or decelerate (brighter light). when luminescence is too dim, the accelerating motors begin to physically pull the wire, while the clear tube stays in the same place — think of a bicycle hand brake. the wax quickly reaches the side of the hole, and when sideways pressure becomes too great, it fails and causes the fabric piece to fall.

defoliating fall dress birce özkan parsons designboom
color gradient detail




the color palette for the garment comes, naturally, from the fall landscape. picking colors common to deciduous trees, özkan spray painted a gradient across a large piece of muslin fabric. once painted, a laser cutter sliced the fabric into a repetitious, stylized leaf shape. pieces were then attached with melted wax to an undergarment of cotton fabric.

side view




‘fall’ is an exploration into the possibilities of wearable technology, not just to serve functional purposes, but also to create artistic, performing, or expressive works. instead of being simple cloth, fashion can be kinetic, taking on an almost living example of unique experiences with the natural world. özkan sees of a world of organically responsive clothing, forever changing the dialogue between the wearer, and the worn.

defoliating fall dress birce özkan parsons designboom
back and zipper



designboom has received this project through its ‘DIY submissions’ feature, which welcomes readers to submit their own work for publication. see more designboom readers submissions here.


edited by: nick brink | designboom

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