"Jacket for Kanye" is the culmination of all the things I love: fashion, music, dance, entertainment, and technology. It is a passion project born out of a Wearable Tech prototypes class at Pratt Institute, in which students were briefed to create a wearable product that was either bio-sensing, energy harvesting, or solar powered. My team and I decided to play with the idea of energy harvesting, delivering an illuminated jacket that harnesses the user's movements to create changes in light and color.
Co-created with Isaac Noyes and Nurlan Rahmanaliev
Modeled by Peter Lengel
"Jacket for Kanye" began as an interactive installation called "Room". In this initial concept, several users entered "Room," where they would put on jackets with built in electroluminescent panels and motions sensors. Users would be able move around each other and watch their illuminated jackets change colors based on their motions. Sound was also meant to be incorporated as an output, creating a wearable audio-visual experience that could evoke a sense of synesthesia. The jackets are meant to resemble straight jackets, more so to identify and explore the beauty behind madness.
“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
To really concentrate and maximize our efforts, the team began to hone down "Room's" broad concept. We still had to be somewhat realistic. Let's make one really good jacket. So I began to look past the straight jacket and generate more styles.
KANYE IN MOTION
As the concept became more concrete, we began to brainstorm users for this jacket. The first person that came to mind was Kanye West. He had a set of signature motions during his live performances that could be directly translated into changes in light and color. I could also picture Kanye wearing some of these styles, especially the retro windbreaker. The team was very intrigued with Kanye's art and celebrity. What makes Kanye, Kanye?
Adjusting patterns, trial and error construction, and finalizing design.
Cove lighting effect rendered in the design sketches comes to life with concealed LED strips. Other components include an accelerometer attached to the wrist to read the user's movement relative to space and an Arduino micro controller that creates various outputs in the LED strips, housed on the upper back along and with a battery.
It's more than a jacket, it's an extension of the user. The concept as a whole is able to augment the performance and visual that each artist is known for. Kanye's jacket will not look or operate the same way as another artist's, but our process of design can be applied to any individual by breaking down the motions.