napapijri, the premium italian fashion label dedicated to the philosophy ‘make it better’, is showing its commitment to innovation, and dedication to enhanced technical performance through its latest endeavor — ze-knit. this cutting edge line of digitally-knitted urban future wear is an avant-garde expression of the brand’s research on sustainable manufacturing, challenging the technical barrier of responsible making. designed for work or leisure, the collection comprises 19 monochrome garments for men/women that blend beauty, functionality, and ergonomics to generate breathable, waterproof, and flexible apparel for the urban explorer.

napapijri ze-knit
napapijri activates ‘ze-knit’ during milan design week

 

 

during milan design week 2018, napapijri takes ze-knit out of the lab and into the international spotlight through #futurehood, a hub of installations, activations, workshops, performances, talks, and holograms that looks at the future cities, and most specifically, the intimate dimension of neighborhoods.

 

as part of the initiative, the brand tapped san francisco-based collective future cities lab to create an interactive AI-equipped installation that seeks to reveal what the city is thinking and feeling. ‘the murmur wall’ collects visitors’ messages and allows them to observe the ‘hum’ of the city, as composed on digital displays.

 

the murmur wall’ collects visitors’ messages and allows them to observe the ‘hum’ of the city

 

 

for six days during milan’s most celebrated creative occasion, napapijri brings ‘ze-knit’ to life through a series of events, workshops, performances, and displays that disseminate ideas about the city’s possible future. visionary minds such as stefano boeri, alessandro guerriero, rachaporn choochuey, bruce sterling and jasmina tesanovic, will interact with the audience both in presence and online: the talks and performances held in the lab will be followed up from the liveroom with interviews and in-depth analysis streamed live on napapijri’s facebook page.

napapijri ze-knit
image © designboom

 

 

furthermore, napapijri developed ‘futurehood atlas’, an online platform of interactive and collaborative maps based on personal relationships projected live at the #futurehood venue — via tortona 31 — and on zeknit.com. generated by algorithms representing a network of human connections, the atlas is constantly updated thanks to the interactions of its users. information is processed by the software and displayed on branches and dots that grow and evolve even after milan design week comes to an end.

napapijri ze-knit
image © designboom

 

 

at the project’s debut in milan, designboom spoke with bhavesh naik, senior director, product development, sourcing and innovation at napapijri, and jason kelly johnson, co-founder of future cities lab about the exhibition.

 

designboom (DB): what was the project brief and how did you interpret the collection and the brand?

 

jason kelly johnson (JKJ): the murmur wall was developed independently and brought together on the occasion of napapijri’s ze-knit global launch. our installation and the clothing line both push the boundaries of high performance design and digital craft. in our case the wall’s light-weight lattices were fabricated using parametric software driving a CNC tube bender. this is how we created the overall cloud-like formations of stainless steel and light. we also employed other technologies like 3C printing the six glowing ’whispering pods’ that are woven into the installation.  

 

DB: how does the ze-knit collection expand upon the philosophy of napapijri?

 

bhavesh naik (BN): ‘make it better’ is napapijri’s philosophy to embrace innovations that improve the lives of consumers while making a meaningful contribution to the world. ze-knit is a new line that well expresses the brand’s research to sustainable manufacturing alternatives that also unlock new design possibilities.

napapijri ze-knit
gif © designboom

 

 

DB: on a technical level, how does the murmur wall work?

 

JKJ: murmur wall harvests digital ‘whispers’ in the form of trending social media hashtags from the neighborhood in which it is installed, and continuously displays them on the six glowing ’whispering pods’. the idea is to take murmurs (and perhaps rumors) from social media and give them a place in the city. right now there is a lot of fascinating data streaming through social media. murmur wall look for local trends and present them on the wall. the idea is to help us lift our heads from our smart phones, and experience streaming social media in a new way that is spatial and three-dimensional. visitors to the exhibition can also contribute their own words in real-time at: www.murmurwall.net. their word will show up on the wall in orange in just a few seconds. it shows up once then is deleted from our database.

 

DB: what are some of the innovative features that distinguish ze-knit?

 

BN: ze-knit is a line of contemporary everyday wear based on ergonomic design principles that focus on the body’s movement to improve comfort and functionality. digital knitting allows us to start working from a yarn rather than from textiles, and to map the body in functional zones to provide urban performances where needed, increasing comfort in each garment of the collection.

napapijri ze-knit
details of ‘the murmur wall’ 

 

 

DB: what did you enjoy most about this project and what were some of the challenges to overcome?

 

JKJ: it was quite challenging to weave together the physical and digital elements and have them work together seamlessly. behind the scenes there are multiple computer softwares that have to work together in real-time to create a light installation that appears coordinated but can be flexible enough to accept unpredictable input from visitors.

 

DB: what kind of research was involved in bringing ze-knit to life, on a technical level?

 

BN: the research was very much focused on yarns and body mapping, aiming at bettering the wearer’s experience of the clothing. ze-knit’s manufacturer actually became our partner since developing this collection required a joint effort from both our design and product team and their r&d team to investigate yarns, research and develop body areas based on required functionalities and people’s need.

 

the premium italian fashion label is dedicated to the philosophy ‘make it better’

 

 

DB: what do you personally think cities ‘feel’ or ‘sense’?

 

JKJ: the murmur wall gives us insight into the ebb and flow of what the city is thinking, feeling and discussing in real-time. some times you might read anxious trending words about war or love for instance, and a few hours later people are posting about politics or a sports game. this afternoon in milan one of the top hashtags is #salonedelmobile.  

 

DB: can you describe the production processes involved?

 

BN: ze-knit is produced with a computer controlled knitting technology that, similar to 3d printing, knits items following a digital path. knitting garments from a single yarn rather than cut from a piece of fabric, the technology removes many of the historical production limitations from the hands of the designers giving them the flexibility to use various materials, coatings and colours at any stage of the design, and improving the wearer’s experience of the garment.

napapijri ze-knit
the line is an avant-garde expression of the brand’s research on sustainable manufacturing

 

 

DB: what about the result has been most interesting to you since the activation started?

 

JKJ: for me the most fascinating part of bringing the installation from san francisco to salone del mobile milano has been watching how people are interacting with murmur wall. some people spend a lot of time staring and thinking, others are talking and laughing with random strangers about things they are reading. the exhibition space is really animated by the variable lighting and geometric effects of the installation. it was very well curated and each element resonates with the other.

 

DB: how important is milan as a stage in bringing ze-knit to light?

 

BN: the ze-knit collection and its revolutionary production process is closely associated to design with functionality and style being considered side by side. due to milan’s association with fashion and design we identified the city, especially during milan design week as the ideal location to launch ze-knit.

napapijri ze-knit
designed for work or leisure, the collection comprises 19 monochrome garments for men/women

napapijri ze-knit
the collection blends beauty, functionality, and ergonomics

napapijri ze-knit
‘futurehood atlas’ is an online platform of interactive and collaborative maps

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