Rachel is shortlisted for the Arts Foundation award for Materials Innovation

Rachel has been shortlisted for the Art Foundation 2016 award for Materials Innovation. Should she win, this funding would allow dedicated time to work on development of the e-textiles version of the mi.mu gloves and the accompanying open source documentation. Keeping the gloves open sourced and working towards accessible technology in the future is a key aim of the project, so keep fingers crossed! The award will be announced on the 28th January at the 20th Century Theatre in London.

Read the full shortlist here: http://www.artsfoundation.co.uk/winners-and-shortlist/2016

Below images show the current design direction. Hannah Perner Wilson's initial woven e-textile glove (left) and Rachel's latest bonded e-textile glove (right). This experimental glove will be developed by Hannah and Rachel alongside the current high performance mi.mu gloves which use bend sensors and are released in limited batches here. If you are interested in buying a pair, there is a small run being produced in the spring! We are also launching a residency program so follow us on social media or sign up to our newsletter for updates.

For more information on the mi.mu gloves project: www.mimugloves.com
mi.mu gloves dev blog: http://dev-blog.mimugloves.com
Hannah's incredible glove flickr: eTextiles |  mi.mu V1  |  DIY  |  glove archive  | 
Rachel's manufacturing prototypes flickr: RachelFreireStudio

Follow us on social media:   FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  INSTAGRAM  |

Leather fingerwaves for a Rebel Heart

Last month we received an exciting request for leather headpieces for the flapper finale of Madonna's Rebel Heart Tour. Commissioned by the brilliant Arianne Philips (costume designer of Hedwig and The Angry Inch and Tank Girl <3), we made an exclusive piece from the Concrete Roses collection. A fingerwave hairstyle which can be styled in under a minute is ideal for the military precision of dancers' quickchange. The particular design Arianne chose was not in the lookbook.. for some mysterious reason. It was clearly destined to be exclusive to the tour and will now be known as the Rebel Heart headband.

This original design sketch was featured in a 'first look' article on WWD alongside her formidable roster of designers.  Big love to Arianne for including us in her epic design!

Rachel and Rebecca were joined by the talented Christian Warren Landon and made twelve pieces by hand in East London: 6 in polished black and 6 in pearl white. The carved and moulded leather fingerwaves are made using only European veg tan leather, water, traditional swivel knives and bone folding tools - and infused with a lack of sleep, an excess of swearing and a noble quantity of vodka.

These sculptural pieces were never intended to be made en masse. Instead the collection was designed around super minimal use of materials and tools, with all the emphasis on craftsmanship and human touch. How viable this is in the modern world is questionable. It is fascinating how we as consumers perceive the value of ornate craftsmanship, and how this in turn influences design practice. The collection was originally presented with this in mind. It was offered bespoke from the atelier and no wholesale orders were taken. So making a dozen in quick succession to a tight deadline was a baptism by fire as the process is tiring and intense, even for us maniacal leatherworkers.

However, you don't say no to Arianne and Madge! ;) So thank you ladies. The result was a perfect commission: pushing the material - and ourselves - to the limit.

 

The Leap

Last spring we designed the costumes for Karel Van Bellingen's debut movie The Leap. Rachel worked on the initial phase of design and locked in the costumes to commence shooting, then handed over to Rebecca who handled everything on set and designed for additional scenes. You can read the synopsis and watch the 30min film in full below. With 100k views and climbing on Vimeo, The Leap is a stunning testament to the talents of it's director, who is also responsible for the writing, production design and editing. Huge congratulations to Karel and the whole team for a truly stunning sci-fi film!

 

The Leap: In 2069, New Earth is declared open for civilian migration, a decade after its discovery. As tales of wonder and opportunity reach the Old World, taking ‘the leap’ becomes the dream of millions. Unable to afford the journey, many of the less fortunate risk their lives being smuggled aboard cargo ships. The inter-planetary Migration Administration, or IPMA, deals with human trafficking on a biblical scale. Fifteen years later, Jacob Reiss, a disillusioned IPMA veteran, has a fateful encounter with a young cartel prostitute. A meeting that forces him to confront a dark chapter from his past in order to save them both from a bleak future in one final, violent shot at redemption.

eTextiles summer camp and wearable prototyping accessories

eTextiles summer camp is a week-long gathering of expert practitioners in the fields of eTextiles and soft circuitry, founded by Hannah Perner-Wilson and Mika Satomi of Kobakant. It is an wonderful place to share ideas, collaborate and prototype at Moulins de Palliard arts centre in rural france. There was an public exhibition of our pieces, workshops to teach techniques, focus groups to explore ideas in more depth, presentations to share and discuss findings and lots of home cooked food and local wine. A perfect summer holiday and a hotbed of future collaborations and inspiration.

I worked in the 'Make your Tech and Wear it' focus group and explored the aesthetic language of wearables and how this can/will affect our response to tech on the body. The image below is a pair of leather prototyping cuffs made using only textiles and soft circuitry (and - full disclosure - four sewing pins). The right cuff has an eTextile breadboard, power source and thermochromic coating to warn the wearer if a component is drawing too much power. The left cuff is a continuity tester with interchangeable output slots, a pouch to hold small components, and pin cushion. This is a working sketch for an idea to make a rapid prototyping kit which will be presented as a fashionable accessory. It also asks the question: would someone want wear it without knowing of it's inherent purpose and could this pique their interest in making/wearing tech?

The idea was inspired by Irene Posch and Hannah Perner-Wilson's 'Tools for Practitioners' project, developing the aesthetic aspect to pose questions. The final prototype will incorporate all the ideas from the pair of cuffs into one refined functional object and I will make a small run for people to wear and test. I would be fascinated for someone to want this accessory without knowing (or maybe even caring) of its purpose.

If you would like to follow the prototyping accessory project, purchase one of the test run or make your own, the patterns, techniques, circuit diagrams and materials will be compiled and posted on Hannah and Irene's tool website toolswewant.at

Peaches - Light In Places featuring Empress Stah

Peaches just released her new song 'Light in Places', a collaboration with the inimitable Empress Stah, written for her lazer butt plug show. Leather outfit and headpieces by Rachel Freire, bodysuit base by Claire Ashley. Face corset by Patrick Ian Hartley. It's amazing to work with such strong, brilliant, badass women. Watch Stah's performance, directed by Peaches, below:

Bishi featuring Tony Benn - Look The Other Way

It was wonderful to work with singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Bishi and her amazing creative team, styling this future-pop visual feast video. Bishi wears a whole Rachel Freire look in the first scene of the video, including a bespoke moulded leather corset, made the night before the shoot.

Released for the 2015 UK general election, Look The Other Way features socialist legend Tony Benn in a cautionary tale of harnessing anger and hope for a better world:


death mask project

The death mask project is an ongoing collaboration between Rachel Freire and fine artist Ben Ashton. The faces are moulded by Rachel using traditional leather techniques and painstakingly painted by Ben to eerie hyper-real effect. These age old techniques are our old school take on the Uncanny Valley.

mi.mu gloves are go!

This week we handed over the first batch of mi.mu gloves to our collaborators, a selection of exciting individuals and groups working across the spectrum of music, performance and technology. These collaborators are our first users, and we set up 'Barncamp' in Imogen Heap's Barn so they could pick up their gloves in person, meet each other and attend a special program of workshops to learn about their gloves and start to make art. We were visited by the BBC, CNN, Wired and Dezeen so watch out for video updates on mi.mu social media. We also had the most enviable xmas tree you can imagine. It is programmed to react to sound and provided a gorgeous backdrop to the collaborator presentations.

Nirvana: Les Etranges Formes du Plaisir

Two jumpsuits from AW10 collection 'future noir' are currently on display at MUDAC design museum in Lausanne, Switzerland in the exhibition Nirvana: Les Etranges Formes du Plaisir. Displayed alongside a host of amazing artists, photographers and designers, the jumpsuits will tour with the exhibition for the next 12 months.

All images (c) MUDAC