Book review: Metamorphosis

[gallery] Italian fashion design has been at the forefront of the global fashion industry for years and remains one of the prominent drivers of Italy's economy. Elisabetta Cianfanelli and Stoffel Kuenen along with research team Roberta Baccolini, Gabriele Goretti, and Ambra Trotto have published a book titled Metamorphosis that discusses how technology will evolve the fashion industry and help establish new and innovative global markets.

After waiting 4 weeks for the book to arrive, I can finally provide some highlights...

The book begins with a manifesto that is a call-to-action for designers to focus on a user-centered design approach that considers a balance of social and virtual spheres (described below and in the book) that they say are required when integrating new technologies into fashion products that introduce new interactions.

The book begins its argument with an analysis of the history of fashion design and manufacturing processes specific to the Italian fashion "system" as they describe. "New technologies integrated into fashion will lead to a metamorphosis of meaning associated with the use of a product, offering a new way of interpreting it… based on its ability to offer various dimensions of interaction of which the user forms the center and that create an entirely [new] experience.

The fashion system [fashion design, materials, technology innovation and manufacturing processes] allows for the study of its functional, its expressive, and its communicative aspects.

The challenge lies in transforming the male, rational and cerebral image of technology and present it in a sexy, female, elegant form that [fashion] naturally creates."

The book goes on to argue that advancing technologies provide a myriad of opportunities for the fashion industry to differentiate and position itself in a global market. For example, "material technologies offer new fabrics with new properties to work with, the miniaturization of electronics offer completely new types of functions leading to new forms of expression and interaction for wearable technology designers to give form to." This makes the relationship between the culture, context and the interactions that the wearable product provides incredibly important.

The book supports this argument through a variety of wearable technology products that explore the balance of value and interaction through the understanding and realization of social and virtual spheres (as they describe them). Some examples include:

Beehugged – encouraging a society where showing mutual care and sharing become a natural (and public) habit

Cache – a fashion product meant as an expression of identity

Stir it On! – providing a sense of personal space and protection

HearWear – transforming and visualizing environmental sound levels

Climate dress – raising awareness of environmental factors we are normally unaware of

And many more...

This book is definitely worth the shipping wait and I recommend that it should be in every wearable technology designer’s library.

Go to Polistampa for € 25,60 (20% off the list price) for ordering info. For faster shipping for those of you in the states, the book is now available at