PHNX RIP

Chromogenic textile designer Lauren Bowker stages a fashion performance in Bethnal Green

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This July saw the funeral of ex-RCA student Lauren Bowkerʼs technologically challenging piece PHNX. The focus of the feathered piece was the transformation of its appearance by specially tailored inks, and the dramatic funeral not only echos the pieceʼs affinity with costume and performance, but also marks the potential of the future development of the designer. Following the funeral, which took place in Bethnal Green, Dazed chats to the young designer about her iconic piece and her bold aspirations for the future achievements of her work.

Through the expansion of many types of ink, within the PHNX I have developed an original take on dynamic chromic imaging. Using focused thermal beams, sequentially controlled through computer software to allow my pieces to take on lives of their own

Dazed Digital: What was the inspiration for PHNX?
Lauren Bowker:
As a designer, I am highly inspired by the notion of visualising the invisible, seeing the unseen. I am intrigued by the cycle of life and how it can be controlled and revealed. I embarked upon a journey to visualise, control and construct a piece that constantly evolves, lives and dies in front of our eyes.

DD: How would you classify your work?
Lauren Bowker:
It's what the viewer or user perceives. My practice varies across many brackets, mostly designing for worlds that don't even exist yet. But the aim is always the same, to make something that hasn't existed before, what that is and what title it lies under never crosses my mind. Though deep down I would hope it lies under its own category!

DD: Can you tell us about the science behind the piece?
Lauren Bowker:
Through the expansion of many types of ink, within the PHNX I have developed an original take on dynamic chromic imaging. Using focused thermal beams, sequentially controlled through computer software to allow my pieces to take on lives of their own. Resulting in a glass cased garment that continually changes colour, evolving in front of our eyes.

DD: How important is the development of your work beyond fashion?
Lauren Bowker:
Extremely! It's the most important thing, the human is the first and foremost vital tool in my kit even over function. If I can create things that look beautiful but that can potentially save your life, then I have done good work. Why make a dress that just looks lovely when you can make a dress that looks lovely and keeps you healthy? I tend to preach about the future of design being more human conscious!

DD: What do you have lined up for the future?
Lauren Bowker:
I have collaborations lined up as always. Most notably, and what will be taking up a big chunk of my time, is an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Engineering in September based upon the future of material. I am constantly working alongside my friends, whom are from many backgrounds, engineers, coders, filmmakers and biologists, we geek off regularly. I have also just become a member of the European council for the internet of things with my colleague Jessi Baker and that is definitely leading up to some mental, fun and definitely interesting work!

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