Monday, February 15, 2010

Collaboration with Cornell

A little while ago I was approached by a grad student in the Fiber Science and Apparel Design department at Cornell University to help photograph garments and collaborate on a movie for her thesis. We met once to talk about what she wanted to accomplish for her thesis and the second time we met I went to Cornell to see where she works and what equipment she works with.

I have never really been interested in apparel design and that aspect of the fashion industry. Aside from watching Project Runway reruns and making a pair of pj pants (when I was in 5th grade), I had never even thought about it. What was great about going to Cornell was that it opened my eyes to aspects of design that I had never heard of.

My friend at Cornell is interested in the technical aspect of apparel design. I had always thought that designers sketched preliminary designs for their garments by hand; that is the only part that is shown on TV. I was able to see the design spaces at Cornell which were more or less like I expected them to be. There were big tables to lay out fabric, mannequins and body form stands (I'm pretty sure this is what they were called. They were like mannequins but just a cloth bust used for tailoring). There were collections of old fashion magazines all over the tables of the rooms and thrown on chairs, shelves, and stuck in corners. It was definitely a place I would want to hang out.

From there I was shown into a special room that was home to the 3-D body scanner. This is one of the most interesting things that I was able to see and learn about. Technology is becoming an important part of the fashion design industry. Designers still sketch by hand but there are many aspects of the process that make more sense to do on a computer. The body scanner is being incorporated into the design and the construction of the garments. The scanner consists of four poles that make a square. On each pole is a different scanner or camera that takes an image of the subjects body. The scanners overlap so that all 360 degrees of the person's body are recorded. The end result of the scan is a 360 degree view of the body. This scan is then imported into a special design software that can specifically and accurately measure the body dimensions. Pattern and different designs can be manipulated in this software so that the designers can predict what a specific garment would look like before they invest their time and craft into producing the garment.

My friend helped me out and showed me what the machine did by using me as an example. Usually when designers use this machine they make their models wear skin tight clothes so that no part of the body is concealed. This makes some people uncomfortable but I would have gladly done that if someone wanted to make a garment that would fit me. You can check out my scan below. I didn't get all fancy with it (it was just a test to show me what it is like) so I was scanned with the clothes I was wearing that day.

If you are interested in any more information I would recommend checking out the department website:


haha that's so neat! Look you're 3D!

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