Our friend and incredible designer Anouk Wipprecht is back with another interesting take on digital fabrication, wearable electronics, and fashion. This time, she’s teaming up with Swarovski Crystal. This dress, called the Heartbeat Dress will monitor your heartbeat and reflect those vital rhythms in a central pendant.
Wipprecht spent some time doing an artist in residence with Swarovski, and this was the result of her explorations. The gem at the center of this dress, Swarovski crystal of course, that responds to your heartbeat.
It’s almost like you have goosebumps, you cannot control it, or you start to be red in your face. In the purest form, you’re able to broadcast your emotions. if you are wearing your heartbeat on your sleeve, it is a really pure thing. it also gets you in a lot of really awkward situations that lend itself to observation of expressions from an interactive design aspect.
Above, the dress is being modelled by Britttany Butler (left) and Keenyah Hill (right)
Anouk is a hard core maker and knows that readers of Make: Magazine would want to peek behind the curtain. So, she sent along a bunch of behind-the scenes pictures as well! She shared some thoughts on putting together this pendant. While she can’t share the exact electronics used, she will divulge what gave her a hard time.
The crystal has a conductive coating behind it, and an PCB plate on the back, this way the ‘crystal’ itself became sensoric. The department at Swarovski was already testing stuff like this out – their product in combination with LED and such, but figuring out together how to make ‘sensoric’ crystals was really fun but also a good challenge. Especially with anything that is tiny, in this case the crystal – that in the end would fit in both a dress – but could also be worn around the neck.
Making tiny, round and also very flat circuit boards was the result. Every millimeter was being accounted for to make it as skinny as possible. In the dress it could become a big piece: but around the neck it needed to look very elegant.
You have most likely seen Wipprecht on the pages of Make Magazine with her 3d printed dresses. She’s been exploring this area of design in fashion for a very long time. After so many years, she has some input for those wanting to get into this kind of thing.
I have been experimenting with 3D printed dresses for about 12+ years, though 2007 (15 years ago) was the first time I 3D printed a first part – for the “DareDroid 2.0′ – fellow collaborator on that project artist Jane Tingley had at Concordia University the access to one of the first (I believe SLS) printers, so we 3D printed a part for the dress.
It was crazy to me as me and Jane both used to sculpt things by hand, then use epoxies and such: it was always really hard to mirror things precisely. Using digital design, it was one click in your software and you mirrored your part exactly, and 3D printed it out. I loved it. And ever since I have been using 3D printing in everything I do: by myself or with collaborators.
Though the body needs ‘soft’, ‘breathable’ and ‘flexible’, often when you end up 3D printing robotic elements, they need a certain strength and ‘hardness’ which my work is known for. I use it mostly so my design stays reliable: when worn, and over time when it travels around to exhibitions and showcases. It needs to keep up. So though you might want to have a more fragile and symbiotic appearance of your design: make sure it can stand abuse kind of. Engineer it to not fall apart after a few times, but really work on a good structural integrity, especially when working with moving parts like robotics and such. One of the first things I do when I get 3D print back is throw it on the floor: if it breaks, it needs more work!
Senior Editor for Make: I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity of the masses! My favorite thing in the world is sharing the hard work of a maker.
I'd always love to hear about what you're making, so send me an email any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
View more articles by Caleb Kraft