I can tell from his answers that Dom Sebastian is a real smart cookie (in addition to being cool and fashionable). He has an amazing sensibility for color and texture and he can pronounce words that you can’t. He is the kid you wish would sit next to you in science class and at lunch.
For Gel Futures you work specifically with silicones, thermoplastics, and polyurethane systems. Can you tell us: what is the difference between these three fabrics/materials? Do you have a preference for one over the other?
They are all very versatile substances. I have been using silicones mainly as they are the most customizable. Polyurethanes are created by mixing a polyol and a poly-isocyanate foams - the two, together, become the ‘system’. I have mainly been using thermoplastics as a hard base and polyurethane foam as ergonomic cushioning inside the product with silicone as a gel stretched over the thermoplastic base.
I definitely have a preference for silicone. For Gel Futures, I think I used around 40kg of silicone in total -it’s such an great substance! I’ve been working with it a lot over the past 3 years and I’m still excited by it. Polyurethane foam is much more challenging as it is not very forgiving. If there is a condition you haven’t met - such as room temperature- it won’t cure properly. You also only have around 30 seconds working time after mixing it before it starts curing. I would say the same about thermoplastics - there’s not much room for error with them either.
Have you ever used a 3-D printer? What kind of technology is your favorite to experiment with at the moment with your Gel fFutures project?
We have a 3d printer at St. Martins, actually. I haven’t gotten around to using it yet, although I had a few ideas from a project a couple of years ago which I was planning on 3d printing. Maybe 2018 is the year. My favourites: vacuum forming, CNC milling and laser cutting.
You make wearable items and home items...... Which came first? The chicken or the egg?!
Wearable items came first. I’ve always seen clothing as wearable art. The earlier stages of my textile work consisted of translating my art into wearable pieces. The ‘home’ items in this project are more like motifs that run alongside the project to help distinguish each of the different ‘sets’ (colour schemes/atmospheres) within the collection.
Are you interested in making medical or sporting gear? I mean, some of your items look like knee braces…
Yes, ergonomics and the idea of future fashion protection is one of the driving themes of the Gel Futures project. I’m interested in body enhancement and the ways in which we can improve it. There is just something about the human body that I don’t like… it seems minimally functional. I almost find it kind of dated?
As we move into the future, it’s almost like the body is starting to feel more and more limited, like there’s something missing. i'm really excited about the possibilities of combining technology and the body. The idea of transcending the human form, as I find it quite confining. I think thats where a lot of inspiration for this project began.
If a sport, fashion or home goods company offered you a contract would you take it? Who would be your ideal brand to work with?
Yes - I am focusing on fashion so i would love to work with a footwear or fashion company. I think i'd be really interested to collaborate with Nike or Camper. I’ve worked with them in the past but it was for photography & advertising, so i’d be really interested to work on the design of the products as well as the visual communication of them.
You have such a unique perspective and I assumer you are a bit of a mad scientist. How did this happen? In other words, what do you think made you the experimental craftsman and artist that you are today? Also, who is your favorite mad scientist in all of history?
I would love to have an answer for this - but I’m not entirely sure. I think I’ve always seen things from a weird perspective. I guess its my obsession with creating and bringing my ideas and thoughts into reality. Maybe my experimentation between different disciplines has also put me in this direction. Starting out at St. Martins in graphic design and then moving to textile design gave me a different perspective on things.
I can’t think of a particular scientist but i would say the recent groups of biohackers putting tech into their bodies - exciting.
If you could use any material in the world to build a home, what material would you use?
Pearlescent pink plastic with translucent gel furniture and sky blue memory foam carpet.
Images courtesy of DOM SEBASTIAN
interview ASHLEY MUNNS
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