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Universal Assembly Unit at London Fashion Week

The innovative media company creates an interactive installation that lets visitors experience fashion in a whole new way

by Cajsa Carlson
on 25 February 2015
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The spotlight is on South Africa this week, as Design Indaba is set to start. But it’s not just in its homeland that South African design is on display; in London, the country was one of 29 taking part in the International Fashion Showcase during the recent London Fashion Week. Designers Adriaan Kuiters & Jody Paulsen, Akedo and Maxhosa by Laduma showcased their work, with Maxhosa by Laduma receiving a special mention for the Designer Award.

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It wasn’t only the clothes that were impressively designed, though; the display for the South Africa space, which was directed and curated by Foxall Studio, let viewers use their bodies to engage with the clothes’ prints. Infrared mirrors created by London design studio Universal Assembly Unit let visitors adorn the moving patterns by way of their own reflections, creating a camouflage effect where bodies became covered in prints that followed their movements.

“We used infrared lights to spotlight people standing in front of the screens, which is only visible to infrared cameras. The live image is then processed through a custom program we wrote, which compares the original scene without people to any differences in the view," Samantha Lee of UAU explains. "These differences create a negative mask that reveals the underlying patterns.”

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The studio has worked with Foxall before, collaborating with a woven textile artist by using her jacquard patterns to create a web-based 3D creature. Among other notable works from UAU is 3D-scanned installation Datum Explorer, the Drone Orchestra—which it worked on with Liam Young for the Barbican—and the interactive graphics created for Meltdown Festival 2014. UAU has a multi-platform design approach and its members—Samantha Lee, Zhan Wang, William Gowland and Oliviu Lugojan-Ghenciu—all come from a background in architecture. “We're interested in this changing nature of space and how we can create augmented experiences that co-inhabit the physical realm," Lee says.

As the fashion world is increasingly embracing digitization, UAU’s work for Foxall underlines how computers can help to create and inspire the fashion of the future, turning flat designs into living, organic creations.

Images courtesy of Cajsa Carlson

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