Jessica Smarsch

DDD activity | Event | Exhibition | Fashion & Textile | One week about | Material

ONE WEEK ABOUT Dutch Design Week – curator Katja Lucas

“These days it’s increasingly difficult for people to connect with their bodies. Last year I researched how you can design textiles through rhythm and movement as part of my Master’s thesis at the Design Academy. The work I’m showing at DDW is the next step in this,” explains Jessica Smarsch, an American designer who worked in the textile industry in New York for ten years. In 2012 she came to Eindhoven to read a Masters at the Design Academy.

Smarsch developed a software programme that converts people’s movements and muscular strength into textile patterns through the use of an armband. “Making clothes was such time-consuming handiwork, but it was also work that brought people into a meditative state of mind. That’s all gone with industrialisation. I want to show through my work that – even in this age of producing things as quickly as possible – we can still return to that spiritual experience, that we can still reconnect with the body again.”

During DDW, Piet Hein Eek will set the stage for a number of live dance performances. “It’s an exploration of the interface between design and movement. How does the design of the costume reflect a dancer taking a vulnerable position, for example? It tells a whole other story if the dancer moves incredibly explosively. The great thing is that you can see that in the material. The data generated by the dancers throughout the performances will appear in real time on a large screen. We’ve also made a film showing the different stories of the movements to emphasise the search.”

Heidi Vierthaler used her own self-developed method called Streamflow to create the choreography for this project. “I came in contact with Heidi during my research into the importance of movement in combination with design and performance. Dancers have a very strong connection with their bodies and Heidi takes that a step further. It’s moving somatically, which assumes that you control your body from the inside out. In Heidi’s workshops in Amsterdam you learn how different parts of your body work – from the inside out.”

Lionel Ringenbach assisted Smarsch in the coding of the software. “A year ago working with software was completely new to me. The sensors weren’t wireless in the beginning, so of course that wasn’t very convenient. You can’t really capture movements when you’re literally attached to a wire. Fortunately we soon found a wireless alternative. Lionel taught me all the principles and I received a lot of support from MADspace as well.” Changes can now also be made to the collected data of movement, which allows the textile to be designed in another way. That wasn’t possible with the old version of the software.

It’s the second time Smarsch has organised an exhibition for DDW. “The great thing about Dutch Design Week is that projects can still be completely conceptual and people don’t mind that products aren’t ‘finished’ yet. People are really open to them. The conceptual is a fantastic way to introduce an idea and take people along in your story. I gave various demos during my show last year and I was so preoccupied with them that I completely forgot about what was going on around me. When I looked up I remembered where I was and there were all these people crowding around me to see. I could tell by their faces that I had touched them. My state had transported them. This year the dancers are performing and I hope they can move people and take them along in their story.”

Part of the Hidden Gems Bicycle Tours
Twice a day a bicycle tour along the Dutch Design Week gems.
Organized by Dutch Design Daily / E52 / Urban Exploring Tours
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Text: Milan Lenters
Translation: Christa Parrish

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