COLLABORATION BETWEEN FASHION AND SCIENCE; AN INTERVIEW WITH TEAM SEAMSTEIN


INSPIRATION

ELAINE, how would you describe Benjamin's research? What drew you to

it in the first place and what are some of the ideas or images that were

worth exploring?

Benjamin is researching autophagy, the degradation of cellular components

by enzymes of the same cell, and its role in aging and neurodegenerative

diseases. This involves research on the degradation of pathogenic proteins

in tissues and how these proteins, in turn, affect autophagy under different

conditions and stimuli. This research is important to develop specific

strategies for how the detrimental effect of pathogenic proteins can be

diminished by improvement of the autophagy system. The black and white

image representing bands of protein was what caught my eye initially. I

was drawn to its simplicity visually and thought it would translate well to a

textile. (See screen shot of the image imported into the back yoke pattern

piece of the garment.)

BENJAMIN, do you think Elaine has a good understanding of your

research? What would you like to add? Is it challenging to talk about your

work with someone who isn't a scientist?

I think that Elaine caught on immediately to the essence of my research. I

was really surprised at her very well thought out questions that attacked

the root of the problem and made me think of ways to explain complex

things in simple terms. I think it is always challenging to talk about the

work that you do, not only to non-scientist but to anyone who is not in

your field. Many assumptions are made from the general knowledge that

someone "should" have. In my case, I have always seen communicating

science and research as the most crucial role as a scientist. What can we

do if we lock ourselves in our own knowledge and understanding and are

unable to reach out to everybody who is interested in listening to us. To

explain what I do, I try to always use an analogy of a common thing that

you would do in your day-to-day life, and then explain in the same terms

how the cell is functioning.

COMMUNICATION

BENJAMIN, tell us about the look that Team Seamstein is creating. What

message does the piece convey?

As a team we are creating a trench dress. We tried to focus on an essential

component used by almost every scientist, the lab coat, and give it a

fashionable twist to change its conservative look. To make it unique we

decided to add scientific images that reflect real experiments. I think the

message we are trying to convey here is: Science is fun and it can also

be fashionable. Most important we are communicating science with

this garment and it creates a feeling of wonder and curiosity from those

patterns. Also, at the end of the day, the way we dress reflects who we are,

and anybody can start being a scientist by dressing like one.

ELAINE, anything you would like to add?

Benjamin works with proteins. Protein is an identifier. We have taken the

most used and universally identified lab equipment for a scientist; the lab

coat, and modified it to add interest by incorporating fashion details and

the pure scientific image. By highlighting the image on the dress we hope

to provoke conversation about it and what it represents while conveying a

sophisticated fashion style through the design.

CREATION

BEJAMIN, please tell us what tools your team is using to communicate

your research. Have you learned anything new about fashion design?

I think this is my turn to acknowledge Elaine and the tremendous and

innovative work she has done to communicate my research in our trench

dress. From our initial talks with some "mood boards" which was where

our project started to take shape, we were able to convey the feeling

we wanted to give. She also did a great amount of work from a graphic

perspective, looking at ways to change our image in order to reflect what

we wanted to convey. From a material perspective, different materials

where selected to best fit the trench dress, reflect its movement and show

our scientific image by producing a fashionable pattern in the garment. I

have definitely learned quite a bit about fashion design with this project

and also learned the similarities we have with experimental design. From

the initial brainstorm and research to generate ideas, to the sketching

process, selection and construction, to the final edits and creation we hope

to showcase science through fashion. Every single step could be easily

translated to what a scientific project and experiments are about.

COLLABORATION

How can you support each other moving forward?

ELAINE

The best way for me to support Benjamin moving forward is to make sure

that he is in the communication loop and to seek his input to the design

process. This will ensure that he is well informed about the direction of

the design and included in a cohesive team effort. Benjamin’s input is

invaluable and aids in the process when I am making design decisions. It is

also important for me to stay inquisitive about his research and continue to

learn from it.

BENJAMIN

The best way to support Elaine moving forward is to be absolutely honest

about my impressions in the different steps taken during the design process.

It is not easy to give technical feedback or justify why you like one design

more than another, when you do not have the specific knowledge required

for it. As long as you do it from an honest perspective and try to contribute

for the better of the project, things move forward. Elaine's design abilities

to change and transform things from what we discussed was absolutely

fantastical, and I think we were able to merge our ideas in every step of the

way.

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