ANASTASIA PISTOFIDOU, gesturing between ourselves and the natural world

 

When Anastasia Pistofidou* moved from Greece to Spain in 2010 to study at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC), she already had a Master’s degree in architecture under her belt, an eight-year endeavour completed at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Once in Catalonia, though, Pistofidou found her focus in the field of digital fabrication. In the eight years since she has applied her talents in design and engineering to address issues of sustainability in the fashion industry. She now heads her own research project through the IAAC, Fab Textiles, which develops flexible and wearable materials with a broad array of applications.

According to Fab Textiles’ stated mission, the fashion industry has not caught up to the innovation of the rest of the world, relying on practices that pollute the air and water and exploit its labourers. Through Fab Textiles, Pistofidou is tackling these problems on several fronts. The company’s work on bioplastics, a clear and foldable substance made only from gelatin, glycerol, and water appears on its website in a user’s manual full of instructions for how to make the material as well as tips and tricks for its best uses. Making fashion production open source allows individuals to create their own products and have greater control over their carbon footprint. The “biofiltering top” from Fab Textiles, made from a combination of bioplastic and activated charcoal, is even more explicit in its environmental purpose. What looks like a simple shiny black camisole is actually a shirt designed to absorb pollutants from the air.

However, the current iteration of Fab’s bioplastic does dissolve in water, so the best practical applications of such a material probably lie outside the realm of garments, which Fab Textiles acknowledges. Their so-called wunderpants, made from bioplastic, wax, and acrylic paint, are meant to be more of an art piece than a piece of clothing, with their scalloped edges, blue sheen, and superhero-inspired cut. Yet in BioBags, the Fab Textiles team has leveraged the solubility of bioplastic for environmental good. The sleek, pastel-coloured shopping bags in the collection dissolve in a week, as compared to the 450 years it would take a typical plastic bag to degrade. Pistofidou again acknowledges that Fab Textiles has its work cut out for it – in the case of the BioBags, their high cost of production renders them inaccessible to most. But Pistofidou’s research team has a number of exciting products lined up; the explosive potential of digital fabrication peeks through the plastic bags and plastic shirts, alluring and somewhat strange, gesturing at a more harmonious future between ourselves and the natural world.

(*) Anastasia is one of the jury members of this year’s edition of RESHAPE competition

 

 

Words by Isabella Ampil

 

 

(¨5th annual Digital Fashion and Wearables Exhibition¨, curated by Anastasia Pistofidou and Cecilia Raspanti and showcased at Villete Makerz Paris during the Fab City Summit , July 2018)

(¨5th annual Digital Fashion and Wearables Exhibition¨, curated by Anastasia Pistofidou and Cecilia Raspanti and showcased at Villete Makerz Paris during the Fab City Summit , July 2018)

 

 

Architect and founder of Fab Textiles, for those that are not familiar with your background; Could you tell us a bit more what drew you into working in the intersection of digital fabrication and materials?

Nowadays each one of us defines his/her proper discipline. Being a creative and mastering new digital technologies gives me the opportunity to love what I do and reinvent it whenever I need. My job is my hobby and vice versa.  As a researcher and faculty of the Institute of Advanced Architecture of Cataluña and Fab Lab Barcelona, I practice digital fabrication techniques combined with biomaterials and biofabrication to innovate and envision a sustainable future for the textile and wearable industry.

 

RESHAPE competition aims to promote research, design and production of digital ideas, exploring implications and applications of technology and innovation in our society. Why did you decide to get involved?

I have been a promoter and supporter of Reshape since its beginning. Firstly because I strongly believe that we should promote new talents and give the opportunity to new independent designers to show their innovative work and ideas and secondly because I work closely with the founding members of Reshape and share common beliefs about fashion, textiles and interactive garments.

 

What do technical invention you think will have more social acceptance or impact in real life in a not-too-distant future?

Assistive technologies for social inclusion. Some call it posthumanism, others transhumanism ( they are different concepts). I would say that in our every day lives we are not exposed to an important mass of people with different abilities and what technologies bring into the scene is enabling them to be part of our society.

Maybe we still find it weird to wear a headset for reading our emotions but very soon we will embrace the fact that we can communicate in amazingly different ways.

 

The wearable technology category challenges designers to propose a new garment solution, relevant to the environment and human health. Wearable technologies have the ability to communicate with their owners and by doing so the boundaries between physical and digital are blurring. In which ways do you think are interactive and digital technologies changing or affecting human behaviour?

Up to a certain extend, we need to enable individuals to take over and be able to contribute to the better evolution of our society. Even though digital technologies blur the boundaries of public and private I also believe that they empower individuals to make decisions and act on the improvement of the surroundings and community.

 

What directions do you see taking your work into?

Our world is in need of more sharing. In my practices, the open source aspect is a key aspect that generates an impact on society. We are building a community with a new mentality that has the potential to change the current system we all criticize.  If I was to project myself and imagine what my work would be in 5 years I would say that my digital contribution will be greater than my physical presence.

 

What is your chief enemy of creativity?

Creativity is the enemy of creativity. Working with a non-creative person may be a lot more helpful than working with a genius and after all, at some point, you need to put your creativity into practice and be methodological and rigorous.

 

You couldn’t live without…

Reflection and projection of ourselves and our society. We cannot believe that we are reinventing the wheel, there is a lot to learn from humanity and a lot to reuse, recycle, rehabilitate. At the same time, we need to be creative and envision in order to evolve and overcome barriers.

 

 

Websites: www. fabtextiles.org/tag/anastasia-pistofidou 
www.iaac.net/people/anastasia-pistofidou
(All photos courtesy of the artists. Credits: ¨5th annual Digital Fashion and Wearables Exhibition¨, curated by Anastasia Pistofidou and Cecilia Raspanti and showcased at Villette Makerz Paris during the Fab City Summit, July 2018)

 

14 Aug 2018