Rethinking clothing with knitting, origami, and Magic Girls

Knitwear design by Lingxiao Luo; photo: Lingxiao Luo

Material research meets design: Lingxiao Luo shows how programmable, sustainable clothing interacts with its wearers.

Guest post by Lingxiao Luo

I’m Lingxiao Luo, a knitwear designer, material researcher, PhD student, and founder of Radical Fibre Lab. With a solid commitment to interdisciplinary work, I aim to develop innovative solutions, bridging the gap between the fashion industry, technological innovation, and sustainability. 

In October 2023, my one-month secondment undertaken at the Ars Electronica Futurelab marked a significant phase in developing design concepts for my PhD research on “Knitting Design for Sustainable Soft Actuators’ Integration in Textiles and Wearables.” My goal was to imagine textiles interacting with their wearer by dynamically changing their shape and color. 

Drawing inspiration from Oribotics, which merges the art and science of robotic origami and folded mechanisms, along with Japanese Magic Girl animations renowned for symbolizing human empowerment through transformation scenes, I explored actuated knitted origami tailored for the body. Collaborating closely with Oribotics inventor Matthew Gardiner, I translated this design concept into knitted textiles fashioned in origami structures, embedding kinetic actuation. These textiles respond to stimuli by contracting and expanding, gradually revealing vibrant colors and textures as they unfold.  

My ongoing investigations center on specific knit structures for seamless actuation integration, exploring diverse deformation visual effects, and enhancing functional capabilities. The ultimate goal is to present a wearable prototype that challenges traditional clothing classifications and pushes the boundaries of wearable technology by showcasing an innovative approach to textiles with unprecedented transformative capabilities. 

Lingxiao Luo

Lingxiao Luo is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA-DN) funded PhD student within the SOFTWEAR doctoral network. The PhD is prepared in the Soft Matters research group of EnsadLab at Ecole des Arts Décoratifs – PSL University. As the founder of Radical Fibre Lab, Luo has collaborated with academic institutions like the MIT Media Lab and renowned brands and manufacturers in the fashion industry.