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Soft Systems

Ya Tuo

Ya Tuo is a Chinese Mongolia Textile Designer with a Degree in Fashion Design (Menswear) from Tian Gong University. Her designs gained her prizes in the Shenzhen Entrepreneurship Competition awarded by Shenzhen Fashion and Innovative Industries Development Associate 2016, the Excellence Prize in China Zhili Childrenswear Design Competition awarded by China National Garment Association 2017, and a First & Second Prize Scholarship to study between 2014- 2017 awarded by Tianjin Polytechnic University. 

Ya is a technique researcher as well as a storyteller, inspired by her personal experience and the emotional changes of people in specific situations. She explores wearable textiles through embroidery, soft electronics and robotics using these processes to recreate a sense of living movement and touch. Her work discusses the relationship between our emotions, the body and materials. 

Degree Details

School of Design

Soft Systems


HUG ME! explores the theme of touch, through prototyping with inflatable structures combined with traditional textiles to explore the potential for future wearable devices.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made physical contact risky and social distancing necessary leading to a reduction in emotional support due to the lack of physical contact. This new online dominated communication landscape resonated with me, at the same time, I reflected on the loss of communication caused by busyness and unconsciousness in life before COVID-19.

Inspired by biomimicry, I used it as a strategy to recreate the physical sensation of hugging through moving inflatable textile structures. The prototypes are designed with different structures to move, expand and display different effects when ambient light changes. The HUG ME system is wearable, acting as a reminder of a sense of care for people - delivering a vital sense of touch or the sensation of a hug.

Triangle shape model and layered surface
Geometry shape with organic surface
Scale structure imitates the blooming process
Short tassel expand the visual moving affect
Scales moving direction corresponding the geometry shape and air chamber
Scales moving direction corresponding the geometry shape and air chamber
Long tassel and small body sample
Organic shape and surface
Embroidery and knit combination

The embroidered samples are designed to clothe the pneumatic devices enhancing and mimicking the movement observed in sea creatures. The samples are designed to capture a sense of otherworldliness to enhance the senses and invite touch. 


Polyester Yarn / Reflective Yarn
Embroidered samples Inflation
Embroidered samples Inflation
Inflation in the dark
Samples setting together in the dark

Video of pneumatic model inflation with embroidery and knitting surface. Simulate the shape changing of sea creature, to recreate the effect of movement, sensation of embrace.

All the samples made of polyester yarn and reflective yarn, when shooting the dark with photo flash, the reflective patterns would appear, imitating the mysterious under water world.


Polyester Yarn / Reflective Yarn
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment — The outlook of conceptual inflatable dress, powered by portable air pump.
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment — The inflation air path connected by robber tube
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment — Details of inflation parts of the garment
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment — Details of embroidery and knit seam, presents contrast of different technique with same materials.
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment — Details of back look
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment — Presenting under the dim light
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment — Reflective affect in dark light background indicates cold environment and warm reminder. The visual sensation also related to sea creature and under water world
HUG ME Conceptual Inflatable Garment Video — The video records the processes of air inflation device setting and presents the inflating function of the garment under bright and dark light. It revels the theme, concept and potentiality of wearable soft robotics in the future.


Polyester Yarn / Reflective Yarn/Robber Tube