Shapeshifting: Transformative Paradigms of Fashion and Textile Design (April 2014, Aukland NZ)

Dates: 14-16 April 2014
Location: Aukland University of Technology, NZ
Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30 September 2013

In September 2011 the fashion theorist and practitioner, Otto von Busch, delivered a paper at the ISEA conference in Istanbul. Its title alerts us to something immediately contemporary and vitally important in developing a perspective on fashion practices and theories. Von Busch abuts the three words ‘fashion’, ‘hacking’ and ‘shapeshifting’ in a way that points to some paradigmatic shift in how we now have to find our bearings with technologies, clothing and cultures. Von Busch opens his ISEA presentation, “Fashion Hacking as Shapeshifting” with the simple and direct observation: “Fashion is transformation. It is a promise of becoming a vessel of shapeshifting, a craft with which we can navigate across the currents of the social.” It is a promise. This suggests, as with all promises, it is futural, to be accomplished. And like all promises, we always run the risk of this promise being broken, its un-fulfillment. Between transformations, promises and shapeshiftings we are disposed and composed to all of the risks that go by the name ‘fashion’. Shapeshifting is a capacity or potential of sentient beings, a capability of organisms to auto-transformations, as responsive agency to their setting.

To explore these concerns with cultures of transformation, navigations of the social and technologies of the transversal hacker, the one who unpicks in order to deliver our futures, the Auckland University of Technology will host the inaugural ShapeShifting: Fashion and Textile Design Conference, in April 14-16, 2014. The conference theme, ShapeShifting: An international Conference on the Transformative Paradigms of Fashion and Textile Design, will include papers, panel sessions, workshops, performances, exhibitions and social events engaging designers and academics. The conference will take place at The Viaduct Events Centre in Auckland and at sites across the city. The ShapeShifting Conference is presented by the Department of Fashion and Textiles at the School of Art & Design in partnership with the Textile and Design Lab at Colab, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand.

Keynote speakers confirmed to date include:
Nick Cave, Designer and Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Ying Gao, Designer and Professor, University of Quebec at Montreal
Otto von Busch, DIY-demagogue, Assistant Professor of Integrative Fashion at Parsons the New School for Design, and at Konstfack University College of Art, Craft and Design in Stockholm.
Elaine Ng Yan Ling, smart materials artist and designer

Call for Paper Presentations & Creative Works

ShapeShifting will explore Fashion and Textile Design’s relation to the ability of an organism to change its shape into another form or being and to speculate on how the future of Fashion and Textiles could be transformed. Design practitioners, educators and theorists are invited to submit abstracts of 500 words for papers, panel discussions or creative works around the following suggested themes:

1. Ambiguous & Automated Forms: obscured or enigmatic silhouettes, experimental patterncutting, displacement design (chronological & physical), mechanised clothing.
2. Surface & Structural Transformations: alchemy/hybrid forms, disruptive patterns/ camouflage, bio-mimicry, shape-memory, illusion, fibretronics, e-textiles, smart fabrics.
3. The Fashion System & The Ephemeral: Identity, prescience, paradoxes, politics.
4. Transformational Strategies: Consumerism, services, social/media interfaces, sustainability, experiences, customisation, adaptation, transformation, agility.

Submission Details

Call for abstracts: 15 July 2013
Abstracts due by 30 September 2013

Submissions will be made through the conference website

Review of abstracts – notifications for conference presentation by 15 November 2013
Submission of full papers for publication in post-conference proceedings by 15 May 2014

Conference proceedings will be published online

Please contact Mandy Smith or Frances Joseph if you have any queries.


About Fil Salustri
I'm a design methodologist and Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada. Adjectives that describe me include: secular humanist, meritocrat, and long-winded. Some people call me a positivist too, as if that were a bad thing. Go figure. My real home page is

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