Performative Design was a creative workshop focusing on the body within projected and far-flung future scenarios. With the UN conference for climate change on our doorstep, performative pioneers (students) focused on body-centric wearable design in the context of climate, environment and sustainability. Students challenged, developed and explored the role of the wearable artifact as a device for protection, connection, enhancement, shelter and survival within their own environmental future-narrative.

An intimate link between our physicality and the outside world, clothing can be seen as a deeply powerful interface. Through this workshop, we aimed to explore the wearable or body-centric interface, focusing on and learning from the physical potential and expressive nature of the human body.

This was a hands-on workshop in which we physically sketched around the body, testing and acting out scenarios as we go along. Fast body-centric prototypes were developed, tested and documented on the body using cheap materials, to encourage students to think and design in a physical way, without the impingement of material costs.

As well as cultivating a physical and social understanding of body-centric design, we focused on the fabrication techniques and interface development throughout the workshop. Aiming to expand the skill base of performative pioneers, we explored a combination of traditional fashion and textiles techniques alongside digital tools such as laser cutting and basic soft circuitry construction.

Pioneer testing and guerrilla interventions took place throughout the design and fabrication process, holding the belief that outsiders may unleash a stream of potential far beyond the creative expectation of the designer. We hope that performative pioneers unleashed the unexpected by exploring, developing and challenging, forward thinking visions of the body through the wearable interface.