Researchers: Théo Chauvirey (MDes student, Concordia University) and WhiteFeather Hunter (Spec Life BioLab Techinician)

Théo Chauvirey and WhiteFeather developed a hybrid cellulose garment over the course of Summer 2017 in the Speculative Life BioLab. The project was selected for the 11th edition of Fashion POP, part of POP Montreal 2017. Fashion POP took place on Wednesday, September 13th, from 8-11pm at the Théatre Rialto. This research is ongoing.

Project Scope:

Bucci, a unique kind of Gucci knock-off, incorporates the agency of microbes and machines together in an organic-mechanic mashup of media to produce a post-human garment. Our role as designers is to allow the organic and mechanical tendencies, or the agency of microbes and machines, to flourish in producing the shape, drape, hand, structure and even longevity of the garment material.

Issues of care and control include the lack of human ability to ultimately control the design outcomes of both the microbes and the machines – no machine ever executes perfectly without occasionally failing, or what we consider failure due to its lack of conformity to our desires, just as organic life forms are unpredictable. This rethinking of industry tools (machines) in the allowance for what can be called machine sentience, asks us to rethink our role as designers.

Philosophically aligned with the slow fashion movement, this project requires the patience and understanding of both a kombucha “booch” SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast) which produces cellulose as a waste product, and a hand-built (problematic, glitchy) Makerbot which uses industrially-produced cellulose filament to print bioplastic designs. These two types of cellulose together form the cloth that our Bucci garment is constructed from. Practically speaking, the use of a 3D-printed substrate to incorporate patterning into kombucha cellulose is a novel use of the two cellulose types (industrially-produced PLA and organically-produced SCOBY). This intermeshing of machine and microbe functions to add strength to the structure of the SCOBY while also showcasing a contrasting linear design element.

Activities/ Publications:

What Every Fall Wardrobe Needs: A Skirt Made of Kombucha Starter

Fashion POP, Pop Montreal 2017

Boochfest Ottawa, July 2018

WhiteFeather shows the finished Bucci dress to visitors from the Textile Society of America.

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