Design (Dis)Ability in Slovenia

RogLab (www.roglab.si) production in Slovenia and OpenStyleLab invited designers and engineers to participate in DESIGN (DIS)ABILITY, a one week international collaborative workshop focused on design, disabilities, and assistive technology. The DESIGN (DIS)ABILITY project was created out of a genuine need for users in relation to the local crisis of the fashion and textile industry. The goal of the International Workshop (March 30- April 3) was to design and engineer fashion garments or accessories for people with disabilities.

Prior the actual workshop event in Ljubljana, OpenStyleLab provide online course for participants to engaged in an online preparatory phase of the international collaborative process focused on universal, user-centered design. The online courses provided applications of assistive technology, an introduction to basic programing techniques for wearable technology, rapid prototyping methods, and user-centered design processes. Participants were challenged to create both aesthetically pleasing and functional designs that offset the constraints of disability.

Evrim Büyükaslan testing the heating pads for her team's garment solution.  

Evrim Büyükaslan testing the heating pads for her team's garment solution.  

An interdisciplinary team of designers and engineers from OpenStyleLab and RogLab, mentored the participants in order to produce functional prototypes. All prototypes went through iterative stages of redefining and testing with success metrics to address user pain points. The outcome of the workshop was three sets of garments specifically catered to three clients with different disabilities: a heating bomber-styled jacket, a lightweight jacket with tailored zippers for ease of donning and doffing, and three customized casts for a client with braces.

I was invited by MIT’s OpenStyleLab to serve as the Assistant Mentor for UX design & wearable technology design to the selected designers. Parson’s Travel grant provided me $1,000.00 for air travel. I had prepared a video lecture on Wearable Technology, User Centered Design, and Rapid Prototyping. The lectures and curriculum were prepared one month prior the actual workshop date.  At the event, I assisted with documentation and as a mentor for the fellows. The Open Style Lab team gave me the opportunity to participate outside the Parsons community and become involved with collaborations that needed a design and technology perspective. I was more than humbled by the experience. It was a new challenge for me to assist in the creation of curriculum materials and perform as an advising mentor.