Last night, tribeca Issey Miyake and Surface debuted SymbiosisO: Voxel, an interactive textile installation developed by artists Eszter Ozsvald, Kärt Ojavee, and Alex Dodge. A collection of textile interfaces, SymbiosisO is comprised of 64 hexagonal pixels, or “voxels”, with a heat sensitive coating layer and embedded electronics. The human touch activates the textile, gradually causing a series of white lines to bisect the honeycomb shapes to reveal a tessellation of cubes. As heat spreads outward from its origin, the initial white lines disappear as new ones emerge, creating patterns that move in playful, curious ways around the place where the textile was touched.
The minimalist aesthetic of Miyake’s designs is a quality that translates to the interior of the multi-level flagship store, making it an ideal venue for lectures, performances, and installations not unlike SymbiosisO. The installation appeared effortlessly in place alongside the modern décor and titanium sculpture—designed by famed architect Frank Gehry—that typify the space. Because Miyake is well known for his use of unique fabrics and artful pleating techniques, SymbiosisO lends itself to a following that appreciates innovation in textile and design.
After making a lap around the store and stopping at the bar, most event-goers approached the installation, which was situated against the back wall. One man, not sure what to make of the technology, curiously applied his finger to the bright blue textile. Others pressed both their palms against it and waited eagerly for the technology to respond, as if they were in fascinating conversation with one another.
The idea at the core of Voxel, which began in 2009, is that it affords each user with a unique experience. It enables users to create their own animations, whereas previous incarnations of the technology—SymbiosisW (Wall) and Symbiosis S (Seat)—reveal predefined pattern arrangements in a way that mimic the behavioral patterns of an organism. The organic quality of the technology is one that is also inherent to the Miyake aesthetic, which has been kept alive by newly appointed womenswear designer Yoshiyuki Miyamae. “I want to place value not on superficial design or style elements, but on the thoughts of the wearer and the background of the manufacturing process,” reads Miyamae’s statement in the store’s brochure.
This attention to detail and simplicity is just one quality that has made Issey Miyake one of the most visionary designers working today. The duality present in his aesthetic—a blend of Eastern and Western elements—is something that cements his designs as works of art. Much like the Voxel technology, which is brought to life by the user, Miyake’s designs are meant to enhance each individual wearer’s experience.