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Symbiotic Design

Jessica Bachmann

Jessica Bachmann is a German-born, London-based symbiotic womenswear designer, whose work has been exhibited across the UK. She is the creator of Audible Wear that visualises the physicalness and tangibility of female identity and emotions in fashion as digital experience, which become everlasting designs on the blockchain. <wear it with headphones>

Working with a synesthetic design approach her designs challenge current womenswear practices by embracing a change in perception for how we experience garments and how we experience the designer's multi-layered spectrum of work that is put into a collection piece. She wants that the wearer of her designs experiences the garments soul through a tangible feeling created through sound.

By converging visuals, sound and words, Jessica constructs designs that transcend the traditional make, feel and consumption of fashion, by moving into an environment for a new perception of fashion. With digital environments created by her, each design exists in the symbiotic universe of sustainable female identity.  

Forming a sustainable identity practice, method and philosophy is the heart of Jessica’s work.

She reflects on the question “What is sustainability to me?”. The environmental goal in producing sustainable fashion is one part, but it cannot be the only sustainable approach to design. Lesser talked about, but equally vital is the creation of a sustainable female identity representation.

“During the past year of the pandemic I felt how vulnerable my own existence as a designer and female was. I was faced with the harsh reality and difficulties of sustaining myself as a woman, artist and designer. You are often alone in this world. Especially now. Everything is very fragile. Emotions can be overwhelming at times. I questioned my own existence as a woman in this society. Do women exist? Maybe, maybe not.”

The pandemic has made her realise that fashion tends to fall into romanticised concepts of sustainability which can fall apart quite easily. Consequently, the importance to form, visualise and protect a sustainable image of female identity became the focus of her work. Jessica is especially concentrating on the perception of emotions such as female anger and its non-stereotypical representation in fashion outside of a patriarchal realm and the male gaze.

“As a designer I work with the image of female aggression, anger, frustration, and grief and want to show that these are emotions women do not have to hide. These emotions freely expressed can turn into confidence, independence, empowerment, and beauty. Working with emotions, which in popular opinion have negative connotations in relation to the female character, is one of my main motivations.”

“I started to research synesthesia as a design process to visualise emotions. The analysis and exploration of the ‘monstrous feminine’ character and placing my own ‘monstrous feminine’ emotions in the context of synesthesia, enabled me to embrace and cherish appearances that lie outside the norm.”

“Emotions are a great source of inspiration for fashion, but often become stereotypical and objectified visual interpretations based on gender norms. I focus on the depiction of female anger because it is one of women’s most suppressed emotions and has great potential for the development of innovative design concepts.”

“It is essential that I reveal the information and rational thought behind female anger and find ways to express it in today’s social environment. As an essential part to visualise my own anger, my work is therefore connected to underrepresented female innovations due to discrimination. I build a system that serves to elevate females. I investigate how female innovation informs the development of my own work, how it can be incorporated into my work to build an embedded feminism in fashion (that is not stereotypical or objectified), and how neglected female innovation helps to develop a visual response to female anger that does not feed into the stereotypes.”

Her work is a hybrid visualisation of female empowerment, physicalness and tangibility in womenswear. It is an experience of exploring genuine female identity in fashion.

SHE BELIEVES THAT THE IDENTITY THAT WE SHAPE AS DESIGNERS INTO A PIECE OF CLOTHING, CAN ALSO BE DESIGNED INTO THE SURROUNDING WE ARE LIVING IN.

How we wear a garment is a way of that perception. Her project showcases digital sound garments, moving imagery, written and spoken word coded into one symbiotic design system. 

“The sound garments will be a different experience for everyone, but for me emotions such as anger, sadness and especially melancholy are closely connected to memories. Memories are connected to sound, smell, textures, light, which can make these emotions become physical. When you listen to the garments, one experience is that your memories trigger the physical part naturally. Another part of the physicality experience in my work is that my garments are informed by several women from my community who I have interviewed and asked to reflect on how they perceive their own identity in our patriarchal society. These interviews have been transcribed into my female identity podcast and became coded into the DNA of my audible garments.”

AUDIBLE WEAR SOUND EDIT — Video including edited sequences of sound garment 1 (Gaze and Haze), sound garment 2 (Do women exist? Part 1) and edit of my sustainable identity podcast ep. 1 "Sun Radiation". THE AUDIO VISUALISES THE MOVEMENT AND INTERPLAY BETWEEN 'THE MOON AND THE SUN' (FEMALE IDENTITY AND THE MALE GAZE); IT IS A VISION OF FEMALE REALITY ONCE WE BREAK OUT OF THE PATRIARCHAL ORBIT.
Audible Wear GAZE AND HAZE / 00:05:00 — THIS IS A SYMBIOTIC GARMENT WHICH IS WORN THROUGH A DIFFERENT SENSORY PERCEPTION. IT CONTAINS AN ENCODED SYSTEM FOR SUSTAINABLE FEMALE IDENTITY AND IS VISUALISING THE PHYSICALNESS WITHIN NON-PHYSICALITY.
(Photography by Jessica Bachmann)
Audible Wear Do Women Exist? Part 1 / 00:04:52 — THIS IS A SYMBIOTIC GARMENT WHICH IS WORN THROUGH A DIFFERENT SENSORY PERCEPTION. IT CONTAINS AN ENCODED SYSTEM FOR SUSTAINABLE FEMALE IDENTITY AND IS CREATED THROUGH A SYNESTHETIC DESIGN APPROACH, TRANSLATING THE PHYSICALNESS OF TEXTILE INTO A TANGIBLE SOUNDSCAPE AND MOVEMENT.

Created in collaboration with Michael Rendall /music production and in collaboration with the many women involved in this project. Their voices brought these garments to life.

Podcast — The podcast is the language behind the DNA of my hybrid visualised womenswear. Listen in on the journey of exploring the many questions about our entry into ourselves by breaking existing system words. The stories move through my mother tongue, English and a pixelated computer voice, that convey a sense of female reality. Words become visual perception, like a silent movie without images that remain in our imagination when we listen to them. For full access to podcast series please click Launch Project.
EP. I SUN RADIATION — A VISUALISED MONOLOGUE ABOUT THE MALE GAZE AND YOUR LIFE AS A FEMALE.
EP. II FEMINIST IMPLICITNESS — THE WORLD WE WISH TO SEE AND FEEL - A REFLECTIVE DIALOGUE ABOUT THE CONSUMPTION OF FEMINISM. THIS EPISODE IS RECORDED IN GERMAN AND TRANSLATED TO ENGLISH SUBTITLE.
Symbiotic sound garment 2 (Audible Wear)

Translating the physicality of textile and shape into a new perceptual experience of clothing. The symbiotic look shows how a garment forms when its physicality and identity essence is extracted and turned into a tangible form, under my perception of how genuine female identity in fashion exists. 

MAP — A design system of visualising emotion and identity in fashion. Find the full download and the world in detail on my webpage for a better experience.