Existing systems of garment making, distribution, and use are in flux.

CloTHING(s) as conversation is a design research initiative based out of Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Since the Fall of 2011 our work has been seeking means to revise common assumptions about how we should and can interface with the textile based products around us. In particular, cloTHING(s) as conversation aims to address the challenges connected to contemporary design, wearable technology and the fashion industry’s move toward sustainability.

By actively applying sustainable design methodologies, evaluation criteria and tactics to the development of potential wearable technology outcomes, the project aims to seed an increased awareness of environmental and sustainability issues connected both regular and computational based clothing across Canadian academic institutions, and the broader fashion industry within North America.

Our work continually looks for means of reconsidering the fabric of exchange that exists between the clothing that we wear and the conversations we have.

To date a series of explorations ( into the fabric of exchange that exists between the clothing that we wear and the conversations we have) have been developed and conducted. Additive manufacturing/3D printing, free open source wearable hardware, and social media play a part in these explorations as they afford new platforms for shared local solutions and cultural expression. Material and form based studies, generative and cultural probe techniques, and in situ explorations are being used to develop and propose:

  • alternate means of thinking about the role of clothing (from statement to conversation)
  • alternate means of communication
  • alternate means of production and use


Our explorations have included:

gift plus (+)  (July 2016 – ongoing)

empathy/critical use study – 30 international participants interacting with the plus (+) garment and provided fastener solutions.

one month wearing (+)  (August 2015)

empathy/critical use study – 1 participant wearing a plus(+) garment for one month.

one plus 7 days (July 2015)

empathy/critical use study – 3 participants made and then wore a plus(+) garment for one week.

mailroom exchange (Summer 2014 – ongoing)

a back and forth act of sending, telling and repairing clothing responses.

Uni + form (Summer 2013)

8 participants and a day spent recording the experience of wearing an unusual mutable clothing form made out of a plus (+) shaped cloth template.

+++= 3D printing (Spring 2013 – ongoing)

rethinking mechanisms for constructing clothes – developing new fasteners using 3D renderings and print technology.

+++= clothing forms (Spring 2013 – ongoing)

using a plus (+) shaped cloth template to create clothing. ⅛ scale and full scale clothing forms are being developed as well as tools for training wears how to turn a flat unstructured form into a wearable ‘garment’.

+++= weaving (Spring 2013 – ongoing)

exploring double weave pattern techniques in order to reconsider how circuit based technology is embedded into cloth-based artifacts.

clothing to stimulate conversation – round one (Fall 2012)

one designer wearing articles of clothing intentionally out of place – responses recorded, new ideas generated.

conversation threads (Sept 2011 – April 2012)

a detachable collar and an emptying of pockets… 13 coffee shop conversations about conversation and clothing we wear.

Primary Investigators


Hélène Day Fraser

Lead Researcher

Hélène holds a MAA in Design from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and a BAA in Fashion Design from Ryerson University, Toronto. Trained as a Fashion Designer, her fifteen years of professional experience in the garment trade spanned work on mid to high-end prêt a porter lines to custom bespoke clothing and encompassed responsibilities in clothing design, materials sourcing, pattern development, and production management. In recent years Hélène’s work has shifted towards an active re-imagining of textile product possibilities and textile form interfaces with technology, a series of case studies looking at art and design research methodologies and collaborations, and a range of investigations that explore and address applications of design for sustainability.

Between 2006 and 2011 Hélène was a cofounder of iF (Intelligent Forms Design Inc.) and a member of the UBC Visual Voice project. In addition to her work on cloTHING(s) as Conversation Hélène is also involved in several other Emily Carr research and sustainability initiatives: as a lead investigator for DnA; a founding faculty member of Material Matters; a co-collaborator and academic lead for Emily Carr’s Creatives with Intent sustainability initiative; faculty lead for co-creative research in partnership with Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School; and Operations Manager for the Emily Carr DESIS Lab. An avid AICAD PALS participant, she also collaborated as a lead investigator with the International Local Wisdom Research Network, which ran from 2012 – 2014, out of London, U.K.

cloTHING(s) as conversation …

Hélène is responsible for: project visioning direction and management – mentoring of student RA’s, co-design of social construct events, Research Ethics Board applications, contributions to the feedback stream and review of developments occurring in the material artifact stream of the research (new clothing propositions and novel methods of construction) synthesis and evaluation throughout the next three year phase of cloTHING(s) as conversation.


Keith Doyle

co-Lead Researcher

Keith holds both a BFA and MFA in Sculpture from the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He is an Assistant Professor of Industrial Design in the Faculty of Design and Dynamic Media at Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Trained as a Sculptor, Keith has co-created large scale public sculpture(s), collaborated on developing moving image works & installations, held solo exhibitions, and participated in group shows. He has been: a Resident Artist at the ACME Studios International Artist Residency Programme in London, U.K., a NYC Dance Theatre Workshop Artist’s Research Medialab fellow and a Banff New Media Institute participant.

Prior to arriving in Vancouver, Keith worked at the Parsons the NewSchool for Design in New York City, as an Adjunct Faculty and Assistant Chair for Operations, Product Design. He is also a co-founder of Intelligent Forms Design Incorporated and one of five co-creators of ContainR, [HD1] a public design/art project, consisting of two repurposed shipping containers.

In addition to his work on cloTHING(s) as conversation he is involved in several other Emily Carr research initiatives: as a lead and co-lead investigator for the DnA, Rayne and Plantiga projects; he is a founding faculty member of Material Matters, an emergent research cluster investigating additive manufacturing and material innovation, and faculty coordinator for AD-NODE a GRAND NCE affiliated research project situated in Canadian Art and Design institutions.

cloTHING(s) as conversation …

Keith is responsible for: project visioning, co-direction and management – mentoring of student RA’s, co-design of social construct events, Research Ethics Board applications, contributions to the feedback stream and review of developments occurring in the material artifact stream of the research (new clothing propositions and novel methods of construction) synthesis and evaluation throughout the next three year phase of cloTHING(s) as conversation.


cloTHING(s) as conversation’s collaborators and advisory board members offer distinct expertise and backgrounds in Human Computer Interaction, Wearable Technology, Sustainable Fashion, and Design for Sustainability.

Throughout the project we will be working closely with them – drawing key insights and perspectives from their individual sets of expertise and distinct vantage points from across North America and in the UK.


Kate Fletcher

Kate is a Professor in Sustainable Fashion at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion where she has a broad remit spanning enterprise, education and research. Kate’s work over the past two decades has infused the field of fashion, textiles and sustainability with design thinking. Her pioneering work in this field ranges from developing ‘slow fashion’ ideas and practice to directional sustainability projects, including Local Wisdom which has engaged thousands of people worldwide with the ‘craft of use’ and ‘post-growth’ fashion.

As a prominent figure in the field of sustainable fashion research Kate’s expertise and perspective is essential to this project effectively addressing the dichotomy that currently exists between Fashion and Wearable technology and the need for effective sustainable solutions. Throughout the project Kate will actively work with the co-applicants to refine and evaluate methodologies for assessment and engagement with the broader community both in public and academic contexts.


Sid Fels

Sid is a Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of British Columbia. In 2004 Sid was recognized by UBC as a Distinguished Scholar. He is internationally known for his work in human-computer interaction, 3D biomechanical modeling, neural networks, new interfaces for musical expression and interactive arts. Sid is a principal investigator of the $22.1M Institute of Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems housing interdisciplinary research and the Canadian Networked Centre of Excellence on Graphics, Animation and   New Media (GRAND).   He was the Director of MAGIC  from 2001 to 2012.

Sid will provide the team with  critical feedback on technological applications to social/shared interactions worn on the body in each of the three theme based periods investigating: Yawn concepts, Concept Pacts and Distributed Networks. He will also play an active role in helping with technology construction; identifying where and how technologies might be applied to the wearable forms that are developed by cloTHING(s) as conversation’s   team of Investigators and Research Assistants.


Joanna Berzowska

Joanna is an Associate Professor of Design and Computation Arts at Concordia University in Montreal. She is an expert and world leader working actively in wearable technology research. As the founder and research director of XS Labs, and the Head of electronic textiles at OM signal, a Montreal start-up developing a line of bio-sensing clothes Joanna has consistently developed innovative methods and applications in electronic textiles and responsive garments.

Joanna’s experience, knowledge and expertise in the domain of wearable technologies will imbue the project with a unique insight to the developing contextual inquiry.  She will advise the team and collaborate on wearable form development via technologies and equipment available via the Hexagram Research Institute in Montreal. Her interest in the expressive qualities and the potential of wearable communication are also key to the project related to conversation and its connection to clothing. In short, wearable technologies that enable bi-directional communication in the clothing we wear.

Advisory Board


Louise St Pierre

Louise is an Associate Professor of Industrial Design at Emily Carr University of Art + Design specializing in sustainable design and medical design and past Chair of the University of Washington Industrial Design Program. She is the Co-author of an internationally recognized Eco Design curriculum Okala Ecological Design. Louise was instrumental in initiating Emily Carr University’s participation in the international Partnership for Academic Leadership in Sustainability (PALS). She established and is the lead of Canada’s first DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability) Lab.


Katherine Soucie

Katherine is an award winning artist + textile/fashion designer /mending practitioner who specializes in transforming textile industry waste into new textiles and sculptural forms. Since 2003, her experimentation with textile industry waste, specifically hosiery has resulted in an extensive body of work. Katherine is the recipient of the BC Creative Achievement Award 2006, the International Design Green Award 2008 (USA) and was shortlisted for the Niche Award 2007 (USA), and the SustainART Competition 2014 (UK). Katherine was the Visiting Artist and Lecturer in Textiles at the Welch School of Art, Georgia State University in 2013/2014. She is currently based in Vancouver.  Please see her work at Sans Soucie.


Philip Robbins

Philip Robbins holds an M.A. from the Royal College of Art in London, a B.A. from The Emily Carr University of Art and Design and a B.Ed from the University of British Columbia. Philip’s research practice explores a wide spectrum of material innovation, media and technology in a career that spans props production for film and television, public artwork and education. Since 2000 Philip has taught across a wide range of disciplines with an emphasis on material practice, 3D software and digital output technologies.

Research Assistants

Undergraduate RA’s

2016/2017Logan Mohr, Natalie Tillen, Pete Fung, Dan Garrod, Nova Olsen, Stephanie Koenig, Rebecca Nicholls, Shannon Mortimer, Katelyn Richard, Karen Byskov
2015/2016 – Nicolene McKenzie, Mia Daniels, Logan Mohr, Natalie Tillen, Robin Stetham, Nova Olson, Peter Orlowsky, Neil Manchon, Pete Fung, Dan Garrod, Travers Henry, Karen Byskov
2014/2015 – Shannon Mortimer, Jason Nicholls, Nicolene McKenzie, Logan Mohr, Mia Daniels, Lisa Boulton, Karen Byskov
2013/2014 – Jason Nicholls, Nicolene McKenzie
2012/2013 – Jason Miller , Steven Enns, Solveig Johannessen, Bob Ross, Melanie Wadell, Lisa Boulton, Karen Byskov
2011/2012 – Mia Daniels, Jared Korb

Graduate RA’s

2016/2017 – Emily Smith
2015/2016 – Maia Rowen, Aaron Oussoren
2014/2015 – Maia Rowan, Christina White
2013/2014 – Christina White