Pauline van Dongen is a Dutch fashion designer and researcher specialized in smart textiles and wearable technologies. Her design studio, founded in 2010, develops alternatives for current fashion practices by exploring the role of technology in textiles and clothing. Following Pauline’s commitment to creating a more open and collaborative fashion system, the studio is dedicated to collaborative, interdisciplinary work. This created an ecosystem consisting of academia, research centers, the manufacturing industry and fashion companies.
The studio’s vision is based on the belief that technology can add new value and meaning to fashion and can enhance the way we experience the world around us. Examples of projects that have received international recognition are the Solar Dress and Solar Shirt; two energy harvesting garments that are part of an ongoing study into the integration of solar cells into textiles and the relationship between people and sustainable embodied energy. Phototrope; an interactive illuminated running shirt that enables playful engagement for group running at nighttime. And Issho; an intelligent denim jacket that exudes the sensation of a gentle stroke on the upper back to encourage the wearer to be present with their own body in an increasing accelerating world full of distractions. The projects are characterized by material explorations and special attention is given to
the experiential (emotional and sensory) qualities of clothing rather than just relying on the functional applications of technology. By building on these qualities, human-garment relationships can be strengthened.
A unique aspect that can be recognized in the work of studio Pauline van Dongen is that wearables are approached holistically. This means that all fabric technologies – both old and new, low tech and high tech – are being treated equally; namely as materials. This distinguishes the studio from prevailing yet often limiting technocratic views and approaches within the industry. This so called “material aesthetics” approach is central to Pauline’s PhD dissertation entitled: “A Designer’s Material-Aesthetics Reflections on Fashion and Technology” with which she received her doctoral degree from Eindhoven University of Technology in 2019. With this, she became the first fashion designer in the Netherlands to obtain a PhD degree.
Besides the work in her own company Pauline is program manager of wearable electronics at Holst Centre (TNO). She is a member of the advisory board of the ‘ArtEZ Fashion Professorship’, of the Dutch initiative ‘New Order of Fashion’, and of the program board of ‘CLICKNL’.