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Using Nature In Design: Defensive Cocktail Dresses

Thousands of small fish find themselves in the middle of the open ocean with no place to hide. Hungry predators are fast approaching. An attack is imminent. Their only defense is to band together to form a massive, moving “bait ball,” which disorients their attackers. So where do the cocktail dresses fit in?

Porcupine DressThousands of small fish find themselves in the middle of the open
ocean with no place to hide. Hundreds of hungry predators are fast approaching.
A devastating attack is imminent. Their only defense is to band together to
form a massive, continuously moving “bait ball,” which
disorients and confuses their attackers. So where do the cocktail dresses fit
in?

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Creative inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes

For Amisha Gadani, an
artist interested in curious
creatures and their unique adaptations and animals of the deep sea, it started
with one bait ball in the BBC documentary “Blue Planet.”

“I found myself immediately fascinated by the movement and
behavior of the fish. I wanted to understand their behavior–why and how they do
the things they do.” Gadani’s intellectual curiously, coupled with her skills
working with fabrics and simple electronics and mechanics, led to the creation
of a growing series of interactive animal-inspired defensive dresses.

Innovation meets education meets interactivity

Amisha’s creations lie smack dab at the intersection of nature and
design: part performance costume, part wearable art, part fashion piece. “My three wearable art pieces are
designed to react when the wearer is intimidated and can then either inflate
like a blowfish, imitate the defensive quill-erecting behavior of porcupines,
or mimic the ability to self-amputate a limb like a lizard.” She also
plans on adding others to her collection very soon. “I am currently working on
a dress that mimics the ink-squirting defense of octopi and squid for a show at
the Warhol Museum
for the Pittsburgh Biennial.

If you’re worried about injuries
caused by flying quills or airborne ink, don’t. Although her dresses are
designed to emulate natural defense mechanisms, she assures me all are
completely safe.

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By combining her fascination with
nature and her passion for art and design, Amisha’s kinetic wearables are
inspiring curiosity, educating others about evolutionary biology, and flipping
how we usually think about fashion completely on its ear. Her creations also
serve as a fun and tangible reminder that sources of creative inspiration are
all around us (including the sea).

Amisha Gadani currently works at the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry at Carnegie Mellon University and will be joining the team at UCLA’s evolutionary biology lab as an artist in residence this fall.

[image: Amisha
Gadani
]

Pay Shawn’s digital tree house a visit at shawngraham.me or continue the conversation on Twitter.

About the author

Shawn Graham partners with small businesses to create, implement, and manage performance-driven marketing strategies. His knowledge base includes media relations, business development, customer engagement, web marketing, and strategic planning.

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