Workwear: Uniforms of the future 21.07.14

toogood

Faye Toogood: Workers of the World Unite

Faye Toogood, Issey Miyake, Nathalie Du Pasquier, Coop Himmelb(l)au and Vivienne Westwood are among those who have designed outfits for an exhibition in Milan that speculates about the kind of jobs that we might eventually do

For Workwear an exhibition at La Triennale di Milano in Italy, curator Alessandro Guerriero asked 40 designers, artists and architects to design uniforms that might be worn by the workers of the future. The results – arranged by designer Alberto Biagetti as a "dream boutique" – range from the political to the prosaic, the surreal to the fantastical.

senses cheat you mella jaarsma

Mella Jaarsma: The Senses Cheat You

A contribution that falls into the first category is Faye Toogood's Workers of the World Unite – her vision of an egalitarian society comprises 14 similar hand-painted garments, each for a different job. Another is Cameroonian artist Francis Nathan Abiamba's Clothes for a Migrant – built up of layers of cast-off garments.

migrant afran

Afran (Francis Nathan Abiamba): Clothes for a Migrant

Responding to increasing concerns over digital spying, Wolf D. Prix of Coop Himmelb(l)au created a garment made from a metallic fabric that is supposed to block electromagnetic waves and therefore protect people from traceability by such digital entities as Google.

CHBL jammer coop himmelblau

Coop Himmelb(l)au: CHBL JAMMER Coat

Some designers speculated about the kind of society that we might become. Vivienne Westwood's Lumberjack, for example – a checked shirt and jeans, hanging over an axe and an animal skin – suggests a return to traditional lifestyles and gender roles, while Issey Miyake's Extreme Film is a thermal, emergency rescue outfit, designed for a time when the earth has become a hostile and alien place. Allan Wexler's particularly abstract contribution is Hat/Roof, which traps a body to a job, allowing the worker no rest and no way out.

lumberjack vivienne westwood

Vivienne Westwood: Lumberjack

extreme film issey miyake

Issey Miyake: Extreme Film

Other designers focused more on the messages that clothing can convey. Gentucca Bini's Clothes for a Chaste Pornographer comprises a translucent trench coat with strategically placed opaque panels, while Nathalie Du Pasquier's outfit, Oroval, made from the same fabric as a children's soft toy, is intended to serve the same purpose – as a substitute for the comfort of human touch.

chaste pornographer gentucca bini

Gentucca Bini: Clothes for a Chaste Pornographer

oroval nathalie du pasquier

Nathalie du Pasquier: Oroval

Nanni Strada's Dress for a Shell-picking Girl has see-through pockets that allow a beach-comber to store her findings in a transparent way, meaning the outfit changes appearance as the pockets fill up, while Denise Bonapace's Clothes for a Dithering Monk is a cowl with a wavering shape that highlights a monk's doubts about his faith.

shellpicker nanni strada

Nanni Strada: Dress for a Shell-picking Girl

dithering monk denise bonapace

Denise Bonpace: Clothes for a Dithering Monk

Most common of all were the outfits designed for entirely fictional jobs – for example, Angela Missoni's patchworked, ethereal Dreamer's Clothes; Alberto Aspesi's colour-splashed Work Shirt to Paint Dreams; Antonio Marras's forestscape Clothes for a Cloud Hunter; and Tarshito's Buddhist-influenced Clothes for the Researcher of the Divine.

dreamer angela missoni

Angela Missoni: Dreamer’s Clothes

dream painter alberto aspesi

Alberto Aspesi: Work Shirt to Paint Dreams

cloud hunter antonio marras

Antonio Marras’s forestscape Clothes for a Cloud Hunter

researcher diving tarshito

Tarshito: Clothes for the Researcher of the Divine

Biagetti attributes this focus on the otherworldly and dreamlike to the current scarcity of real jobs around Europe. "To design a uniform at a time – especially in Italy – where there isn't work for anybody, involves seeing the future in a positive way," he says.

Workwear can be seen at La Triennale di Milano until 31 August

 

Words

Debika Ray

 

Images: Delfino Sisto Legnani

quotes story

Issey Miyake's Extreme Film is a thermal, emergency rescue outfit, designed for a time when the earth has become a hostile and alien place

exhibition

Alberto Biagetti arranged the outfits as a "dream boutique"

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