re:view – #FASHIONTECH LAB BERLIN: When design and technology come together

Laser your own speakers or make your necklace and its 3D-printed pendant glow? Create jewellery with bioluminescent bacteria? Get your own personal message on a bag, so that it can be carried out into the world? As crazy as some of these examples may sound, they all became a reality within the scope of the #FASHIONTECH LAB BERLIN at the #rp17 Makerspace.

As an offshoot of the event of the same name, “The Conference of the Future of Fashion”, the #FASHIONTECH LAB BERLIN has dedicated itself to the interrelationship of fashion and technology. The #FASHIONTECH LAB was yet another example of technological innovation at re:publica 2017: What will the development and manufacturing of textiles look like in the future? That was the decisive question, and it was answered in various ways.

In her “Your Heart on Your Sleeve!” workshop, Rebeca Duque Estrada showed that you can use new technologies to take a stand for empathy and equality in times of intolerance and growing oppression, and all without even having to talk. To do this, she utilizes wearable technology that can do much more than just look good. It helps get messages on bags, t-shirts and lots of other things and thereby generates awareness for socially relevant topics. 


Fashiontech designer Lina Wassong and ElektroCoutoure Manager Laura Hughes work together to “make technology a little prettier”. Technology and design may be quite different fields, but they can most definitely be brought together – for example, in the form of a pendant produced with a 3D printer which you can get glowing with the help of some LEDs. In their workshop, Wassong and Hughes want to illustrate how technology can be observed from completely different perspectives. They call attention to the many possibilities that open up when one takes a creative approach, thinking outside the box and moving beyond today’s manufacturing process.

Lusi Ajonjoli is another creative who provided us with an insight into his work at the re:publica 2017 Makerspace. Through the use of bioluminescent bacteria – microorganisms from the ocean – and with fibres produced with lasers or a 3D printer, Ajonjoli creates his jewellery and thereby establishes a unique  Verbindung von Mode und Biologie. But he isn’t just about producing jewellery. Ajonjoli wants to encourage everyone to experiment, to find answers for themselves and consciously look at, and deal with, biotechnological substances and materials – “Even if that just means knowing how to properly store your food”, Ajonjoli stated.


Besides the various workshops, which also let visitors make their own speaker “to go”, the lab also dealt with the question of how our privacy can be protected within the scope of the new “Fashion Tech”. What at first might sound like two separate issues becomes relevant when one takes the example of a pair of running shoes, where sensors record the steps and speed of the runner and thereby analyse the performance of the wearer. Data generated in this way could theoretically be used for further analysis by the manufacturer. Within the scope of a workshop, Avik Dhupar, Nidhi Mittal, Jan Schallaböck and Maximilian von Grafenstein discussed the topic and developed solutions which all had one thing in common: don’t panic. The manufacturers of these products have a vested interest in not having their gadgets lose their fun appeal through discussions about personal privacy issues.

So what did the #FASHIONTECH LAB Berlin at re:publica 2017 teach us? Modern technology already allows for alternative manufacturing processes in fashion, jewellery and design products in the here and now. The 3D printer is a pioneering technology in this respect, already allowing for the production of comfortable and sustainable clothing.

by Annika Zimmermann (FF)

Photo credit: re:publica/Jan Michalko(CC BY-SA 2.0), Annika Zimmermann, GIG(CC BY 2.0)