What happens when science, technology, design and fashion collide? Outside the realms of fashion and design lies a stereotypically traditional perception of these industries, and it is becoming ironically passé. Re-instilling a sense of relevance back into fashion and design is a media designer whose experimental approach to design is so excitingly unorthodox it makes it hard for us to conceptualise her style within traditional boundaries.
Speaking exclusively to Hausie , Sammy Jobbins Well’s elaborates on her contemporary, creative techniques placing her at the forefront of the fashion, design and art worlds.
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Sammy is currently studying an MA in Digital Media at the University of Arts in Bremen, Germany, a programme heavily supportive of experimental work into emerging technologies. Her professors and colleagues act as her inspiration and sounding board for her ideas, whilst working in the digital prototyping lab with 3D printers has allowed her to develop her ideas in a receptive, innovative learning environment.
Rather than fashion design, Jobbins Wells’ stylistic direction grounds itself in experimentation with programming and media design technologies, a contrast to typical textile manipulations like sewing -something she admits is not her strongest talent! When asked how her creations come to light, the media designer claims she experiments with smaller ideas until an intriguing result points her in a direction for further development. She admits it’s a slow process, but it is curious, innovative experimentation in it’s purest form, and one that opens up to emerging technologies, as well as accepting input from industries outside art and design.
Delving into how technology and science has facilitated her creative process, Sammy details how digital software, 3D printing and biotechnology have become one of her main modes of creation. Especially in generative digital works, she is particularly fascinated by the collaborative relationship between the creator and the programme. She shares; “you submit a certain degree of creative control to the program you are working with…and you are never entirely sure where the end result may take you”. More so, with emerging bio-technologies the living organism is equally contributive to the design process and artistic input as much the designer themselves -and should be given a degree of credit to the final piece. In this way, instead of traditional one-sided man-made manipulations of garments and materials, production of bio-materials requires a new level of appreciation for the intellectual and productive effort of simple organisms.
Biologically-created garments represent a way out of the environmental burden caused by the fashion industry’s current methods of production. To date, Sammy’s ‘Skin’ project has been her most “labour intensive but most enjoyable” work. In order to understand the organisms she was working with, Jobbins Wells’ had to self-learn foundational knowledge in biology before allowing herself to extend her knowledge through trial-and-error experimentation. Due to the low sterile conditions in her lab, Sammy was able to cultivate low-maintenance, resistant strains of bacteria strong enough to thrive and protect themselves from external contamination. Bacterially produced cellulose is still a technology in its infancy that will undoubtedly need significant development before it is commercially feasible. Luckily, there are many open doors for bio-materials to become a more mainstream and environmentally sustainable method of production. With increasing consumer demand, Sammy highlights the versatility of these materials which suits a “wide variety of design and artistic applications”. Providing an economic incentive for more research on bio-materials to be creatively conducted;
“Creativity is being able to be inspired by as many life experiences as possible – it doesn’t matter how banal or seemingly irrelevant that experience is to your practice.” Sammy Jobbins Wells’
Marrying science and technology with creative design and art represents a power couple in human advancement. Sammy’s approach embodies this in the most innovative way possible. She highlights the growing public interest in innovative science and technology, and the expanding presence of individuals who are keen to engage themselves in learning practical sceintific research methods, regardless of whether or not they have had prior formal scientific education.<
Groups and movements such as DIYbio, hobby science and DIY maker, as well as public access to research labs have allowed a wider group of individuals from different backgrounds and disciplines the opportunity to “access hands-on scientific training, exchange their diverse skill sets, and to explore disciplines outside their usual fields”. Not only does this counter the limitations set by current, expensive routes of scientific learning, but it also creates what Sammy considers a very stimulating environment for developing innovative concepts and ideas. It is this ‘new world’ of creative and experimental fusion that is key for “bringing fashion technology beyond the realm of pure haute couture and making its production processes more environmentally sustainable”
Bacteria is the subject of her fascination at the moment, and is the focus of her current work. The ‘Milk’ project involves complex scientific experimentation with the conditions, genetics and reactions of bacteria synthesis to create wearable textiles from milk.
Fashion should never be elitist or prohibitive. It’s a form of self expression so everyone should feel comfortable enough to be as experimental, expressive or even uninterested with it as they please.” Sammy Jobbins Wells’
With special thanks to Sammy Jobbins Wells’ for sharing her creative thoughts, processes and innovations.
Written by Alice Pearce
Edited by Christina Wright