MAK Design Space
As recently as ten years ago, epidermal electronics seemed unimaginable—but today, electronic systems that adhere to the surface of the skin are being tested for use in various applications, for example by medical research labs all over the world. The MAK FASHION Lab exhibition SCIENTIFIC SKIN provides a look at pioneering design developments that use new technologies to expand the cognitive characteristics of human skin and of textiles, the so-called second skin.

Textile as Skin
The London based creative laboratory Bare Conductive was invited to team up with artist Fabio Antinori and designer Alicja Pytlewska in order to develop a large-scale metaphor for the idea of breathing life into a textile skin. At the core of the interactive tapestries featured in their installation, Contours, are capacitive sensors applied to the objects’ substrates using conductive paint; these sensors react to the presence of a
person in their immediate vicinity and can track their movement. A constantly modulated ambient soundscape, reminiscent of a medical research environment, serves as an acoustic feedback loop that alludes to the relation-ship between science and the body. The abstract geometric ornamentation that connects the tapestries’ individual sensors to form giant ones is inspired by Wiener Werkstätte designs from the MAK Collection.

Skin as Textile
This highly complex computational and scientific exploration is juxtaposed with the artisanal material experiments of avant-garde fashion designer Carol Christian Poell, whose Special Archive is part of the MAK Collection. Poell’s lookbooks and photographs of clothing and acces-sories made of animal skins that have been transparently tanned or colored with bull’s blood, all displayed on the exhibition’s upper level at the MAK DESIGN SPACE, serve to demonstrate his continuous artistic research and analysis pertaining to the “skin” theme.

Artistic and Scientific Explorations
Connecting these two poles are both hypothetical and critical video works that provide an insight into the present scientific and artistic examination of SCIENTIFIC SKIN. In doing so, they also serve to demonstrate the importance of interdisciplinary research for the development of intelligent materials, in which the promising scientific branch of synthetic biology is playing an ever-greater role. And as an expansion of this exhibition at the MAK DESIGN SPACE, an ongoing discussion of current research and development on epidermal electronics is being held on the blog fashion.MAK.at.

Guest Curator Sabine Seymour
Curator Thomas Geisler, Curator, MAK Design Collection
Scientific Advisor Heidemarie Caltik, Curator, MAK Design-Info-Pool Collection and Special Archive Design Pioneers, Kathrin Pokorny-Nagel, Head of MAK Library and Works on Paper Collection


SCIENTIFIC SKIN feat. Bare Conductive in collaboration with Fabio Antinori + Alicja Pytlewska >>
Artistic Explorations >>
Scientific Concepts >>
Contours >>

Educational Program

Wed, 30.10.2013, 5 p.m.
Artist/Curator talk and experience happening with Matt Johnson (Bare Conductive), Fabio Antinori, Alicja Pytlewska, Sabine Seymour
(held in English)

Thu, 21.11.2013, 5 p.m.
Curator-guided tour with Thomas Geisler, Curator, MAK Design Collection (held in German)

departure/MAK d>lab.07

As part of the collaborative program design> new strategies of the MAK and departure – The Creative Agency of the City of Vienna, the workshop The Body as Actuator with the artists and guest curator will take place on 30 October 2013.
Information and registration at: