Sylvia Heisel’s Names Dress, A Tribute to Women in STEAM

Fashion tech pioneer Sylvia Heisel explores the interconnected themes of women's empowerment, sustainability, design and tech.

Fashion designer Sylvia Heisel is celebrating women in STEAM fields with a compostable 3D Printed Names Dress. Collaborating with Morphi, Ultimaker and WillowFlex, Heisel’s innovative Dress is part of the Sustainable Thinking exhibit at Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence.

IMAGE CREDIT: Sylvia Heisel

When Empowerment, Sustainability, Design and Tech Blends

A pioneer in merging 3D printing technology and the designer has come up with a wearable that has 3D printed names of women in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) fields. The conceptual art piece, engineered with over 300 handwritten, the Dress was designed from 2D to 3D solely in Morphi, a 3D design software on iPad and 3D printed in parts on Ultimaker 3D printers using BioInspiration’s WillowFlex flexible compostable bio-plastic.

Known for using additive manufacturing to develop sustainable fashion with zero waste, Heisel worked with Sophia Georgiou, founder of Morphi, on the interconnected themes of women’s empowerment, sustainability, design and tech. Liz Arum at Ultimaker also assisted in the collaboration, and together they compiled a broad group of women, from publicly available sources and referrals, to be included in the project.

“The Dress is also an exploration of the use of sustainable materials and techniques in creating innovative textiles and garments.”

When it came to creating the Dress, the first thing Heisel did was sketch it with pen and paper. She visualised the architecture for how the names would come together to form a fabric. To create the textile for the Dress, she wrote each name by hand directly into Morphi software on an iPad which quickly transformed each name into a 3D model for 3D printing on Ultimaker 3D printers using WillowFlex compostable bio-plastic filament. The names were then placed and connected to create a unique zero waste continuous textile that could not have been made with traditional manufacturing.

IMAGE CREDIT: Sylvia Heisel

On the collaborative project, the head of the design lab Heisel said: “While there are increasing numbers of women embarking on careers in STEAM (including inventors, mathematicians, scientists, artists using technology and others), the achievements of women in these fields are not always widely known or celebrated. The Names Dress a tribute to women, known and unknown, historic and contemporary, in these interconnected and evolving fields. The Dress is also an exploration of the use of sustainable materials and techniques in creating innovative textiles and garments.”

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The Names Dress has been on display at the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo in Florence, Italy as part of their Sustainable Thinking exhibition from 12 April 2019 until 8 March 2020.

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Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.