How the project came about…

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The project took almost two years to secure funding. In the first of those years Rhian, myself and later Manolis refined what the project would become.

Rhian’s practice focuses on issues around of skin including materiality, perception and psychological aspects. She works with medical specialist, designers, patients and technical specialist often provoking conversation and facilitating collaboration.

sKINship work comparing the cut of skin and the cut of cloth
sKINship work comparing the cut of skin and the cut of cloth

In mid 2013, Suzanne Lee of BioCouture now at Modern Meadows (a company growing leather) introduced the two of us. Rhian was facilitating collaborative projects between medical specialist and designers, using knowledge transfer to compare the cut of skin in reconstructive surgery and the cut of cloth in fashion pattern cutting. The aim was to inspire creative thinking around the cuts for each discipline. Rhian was looking to expand this work to other design disciplines such as footwear, lingerie and millinery. We discussed a possible project and Rhian arranged for me to meet reconstructive surgeons at Kings hospital that summer. It was amazing to observe practice and speak to the reconstructive specialist. Rhian and I played around with medical material and discussed a possible project with the surgeons.

At this point we were unsure about the details of the project, but knew we had to get funding. We knew Rhian’s role would be to facilitate the project and my role was as designer. So I took the lead in finding funding and spent the next 9 months applying to funding organisations without much luck. In hindsight my lack of success was down to two factors…I was not sure exactly what the project would be and second I had little experience in applying for funding.

Then in early 2014 I had an epiphany moment. Rhian’s pervious work had been to transfer the knowledge of the cut of skin as a material to the cut of cloth a different material. Footwear pattern cutting already had a foundation in the cut of skin for a product (shoe) people wore. It just happened to be the skin of another animals. In fact the footwear industry’s pattern cutting had evolved on the cut of another animal![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” text_align=”left” css_animation=””][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”5px”][vc_single_image image=”383″ img_size=”full” qode_css_animation=””][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_empty_space height=”5px”][vc_single_image image=”387″ img_size=”full” qode_css_animation=””][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” text_align=”left” css_animation=””][vc_column][vc_column_text]

For example we cut tight to toe on a piece of leather, meaning we cut the top line of a shoe on the tightest part of the skin so when we walk our shoes do not stretch to the point of falling off our feet.

Tight to toe pattern cutting

I spent time joining up the potential dots and realised starting from human skin as a reference point would be useful in the design of 3D printed shoes. In 3D printed shoes we have the potential to design inside the material out.

I had a concept and with this Rhian advised me on her knowledge of skin and what was needed to facilitate the project. Rhian got to work, connecting me with a chemical engineer specialising in 3D printed medical implants, Manolis Papastavou, a PhD student at Nottingham Trent University.

So the team was formed and plans made. Now onto more funding applications….[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]