Gabriel Joffe designed a kinetic hydraulic jellyfish dress for Central Saint Martin’s annual Reset Show (formally known as the White Show). All first-year students were given five weeks to research, design, and construct a garment, with the only stipulations being that it must be completely white and that it must be made from CIRCULOSE® recyclable fabric that we were supplied with. Starting this project, he aimed to make a garment that could breathe.
With over one hundred students submitting a look for the same runway show, Gabriel Joffe had heard stories of a toxic and competitive environment and even students destroying each other’s work. For this reason, during the project, Gabriel wanted to continue doing things that brought him a sense of calm and acted as a refuge from the intensity of the studio. The main way he accomplished this was through practicing meditation.
He wanted to create something that could reflect what he felt when he achieved deep focus on his breath during a meditative session, a breathing garment. For this reason, his first instinct was to incorporate pneumatics (air power) somehow into his design. He began experimenting with common medical syringes connected with tubing: when you contract one, the connected syringe extends and vice versa. My next task was to find ways of converting this linear, mechanical movement into a more organic movement.
According to him, he did research into the respiratory systems and movement of various animals. He experimented with slashing his material into thin striations to replicate a fish’s gill filaments. I looked at the mechanics of human anatomy: how your fingers can bend. Tendons running through your fingers and palms are pulled by muscles in the forearm. This is the same principle that I used to move the tentacles of the dress. This research culminated in a prototype that he intended to mimic the movement of a jellyfish.
He said, “Their beautiful, floating oscillation was what I wanted to achieve. When I began to prototype on a larger scale, it became clear that I would need to swap out the air for water, utilizing a hydraulic system for greater power. However, I did not want to incorporate electronics into the design, as the project has such a close connection to the body. Therefore, he had to find a way of activating the garment in an entirely analog way.” He developed a way of allowing the wearer to control the system’s movement with her own arms as she wore the garment. It was important to him that the movement of the garment responded directly to the movement of the human body.
The final piece is a kinetic dress powered by an analog hydraulic system, activated through the wearer’s arms. It is constructed from CIRCULOSE® recyclable cotton shirting, foam board, and four 100ml medical syringes. These syringes control a central band around the wearer’s waist, which in turn contracts the upper striations and lifts the tentacles beneath. I have attached a video demonstrating the prototyping process so you can understand how the garment works.
Designed and made by Gabriel Jeffe
Garment modelled by Lori Lozz
Images by Che Deedigan