Pauline van Dongen stands at the crossroad between body movement and technology. At first look, it seems like just a cutting-edge design, but its functionality is easily understandable.
We are surrounded by technology devices and often our struggle is how to keep them alive so we can be as well. Clothes can be a source not only of self-confidence but also of power for our devices and for social interaction.
Blanding technology, design, and energy Pauline van Dongen founded her studio in 2010 focused on wearable-technology and creating partnerships with suppliers around the world to generate new forms of expression that increase the way wearer experience the world through clothes. In her pieces, we can see technology as an aesthetic point rather than a mere tool.
At first glance, the sober color yet sportive jacket looks just like a regular windproof jacket with technical fabrics and a design that guarantees comfort and protection. However, the Dutch fashion designer has created windproof jackets bonding solar panels that can charge the phone and it's integrated with a GPS device.
The whole technology relies on the three straps in the front, which are the flexible solar panel, capturing the energy and storing it in a power bank with the capability to charge a cellphone for two hours. Inspired by the tour guides in the Netherlands - known as “Wad walkers” - who often spend up to ten hours hiking outdoors and off the grid.
The Pauline van Dongen's clothes design is not just made of chargers and GPS. “Issho” was conceived to enhance people's connection without a cellphone. Using denim interweaving with conductive fibers, the jacket is connected to a series of sensors with motorized parts. Do not get over impressed! Every detail was built to attract human interaction, so all those mechanisms are invisible to the wearer.
These sensors can memorize the intensity of touch in parts of the garment and reproduced them later as "gentle strokes" on the back of the jacket. According to the designer, this experience is a way to motivate the wearer to be more connected with the present when wearing the jacket. Imagine that after a long day you receive a warm hug through your jacket as kindly compensation for a tiring day.
Design to wrap the wearer like a cocoon, the unisex jacket has a high neck to increase the feeling of security and runs independently from smartphones - a deliberated choice of the designer who wants to avoid utilizing gadgets as an interface - instead, the jacket has its own microcontroller automatically on once it's being worn.
It's undeniable how much our lives are based on technology and how we must count on it in order to trace more sustainable paths, better yet if we can have all of this in a well-designed garment.
View more projects by Pauline Van Dongen on their website.