It’s about an year, the same time in July, when the fashion world was abuzz about the innovative designs in the field of wearable electronics and technology. The designer Mary Huang from the Design and Media Arts Department at University of California, Los Angeles became almost a celebrity over night. The designs created by her were affordable, attractive, unique and very trendy. The logic and basis of these designs was her original way of integrating light with the clothing material in such a way that created such a paranormal, divine, magical and mystical aura that enveloped the wearer. Mary Huang’s collection is called ‘rhyme & reason’. Basically it uses the light source the same way other designers use clothing material.
When I approached Mary Huang and asked her to grant her interview for IndianBlogger.Com, she agreed readily. Here are the excerpts :
“My parents are from Dalian, China. I was born there too, but we moved to the US when I was 4. I have one younger sister. I currently live in California, [although I may be moving soon!]. I studied Design | Media Arts at the University of California, Los Angeles; it’s a unique program than encourages exploration between design and technology.
“There have been many designers whose work has inspired mine: fashion designer Hussein Chalayan, electronic textile artist Maggie Orth, lighting designer Tord Boontje, media artist Atsuko Tanaka are some primary ones.
“I had seen many works combining LEDs and clothing, but most designs focus on being “clothes with LEDs”. I wanted to design pieces that were not overtly technological, where the aesthetic is a statement on its own. A lot of LED clothing also tends to have a very neon, Tron-like look that I wanted to stay away from, so I took cues from lighting design on how to diffuse light for a softer effect.
“I have made a few more pieces now, and I think I am usually most satisfied with whichever I have most recently finished. The technical parts are things I refine with each piece I make, so it gets a bit easier every time, although there is always a new formal challenge that I am trying experiment with.
“My LED dresses are a combination of woven cotton jersey and hand crocheted flowers. I prefer simple and sober designs. Soothing colors. I embedded approximately 20-30 bright white LEDs in the dresses and they are powered by rechargeable batteries or wall socket and if needed an adapter was connected. When not being worn, these dresses double as a lamp, avoiding the fate of hanging neglected in a closet. We have added a wall socket power supply to each dress.
“I’m really quite geeky, and enjoy things like Lord of the Rings, robots, and random things people hack together that I see online. I intend to be doing a graduate program later this year, so to continue work I am interested in. I have a hope to start my own design company someday in the future, but really I just want to always be able to work with interesting people on unique projects.
“I would like to develop and evolve more fusion designs with seamless technological integration. I would like to make such washable, reusable and rechargeable glowing cloths.
“Within two years from now a ready to wear electronic clothings’ market would expand and a number of designers, manufacturers and marketeers would flourish.”
“I have many more fashion designs in my sketchbook, but I have been working on other projects, and so will have to come back to them. Sometimes it’s better to come back to a design after some time anyway, when you can consider it from a different perspective.
“I do hope to visit India sometime in the future! I suppose for other young designers, my advice is to persevere in what you believe in,do work where you can express something unique in your own voice, and don’t hesitate to learn new things and be open-minded to the unfamiliar– inspiration comes from the most unlikely things.
“Some people have asked me for instructions, but I haven’t had the time to put any together. There are already a lot of great resources online where people can learn how to integrate technology in fashion pieces. (Fashioning Technology, Instructables)
Credits: Designs by Mary Huang/Photographer Michael Sun