Pauline van Dongen. Photo | Jan Willem Kaldenbach

Technological haute couture

A dress that charges your mobile phone while you are enjoying a festival in the sun, and shoes rolling out of a 3D printer. Fashion designer Pauline van Dongen combines high-tech materials and state-of-the-art technologies with craftsmanship and manual work. Through her designs she wants to give us a glimpse of the future in which clothes are at once fashionable and innovative as well as valuable. This month she is beginning her PhD track at Industrial Design to make that dream come true.

She gained international recognition through her design of the first shoe emerging from a 3D printer, which she made together with the company Freedom of Creation. Her clothes were on show in cities like Istanbul, Milan and London. In Vienna last year she and an electrical engineer and robot hacker manufactured a dress within one month fitted with six hundred flip-dots responding to music. Within the Wearable Senses theme this spring she worked together with TU/e doctoral candidate Martijn ten Bhömer on clothes for geriatric patients. “I like working in a multidisciplinary setting, together with companies and technicians”, Van Dongen explains in her spacious workshop in Arnhem. “In my PhD I want to expand that cooperation and broaden and deepen my research so that it does not stop at prototypes alone, but really results in a properly functioning and pretty piece of clothing which may be sold. The fact that I have an enterprise of my own is quite useful.”

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