Crafting Fashion with Robots aims at exploring cross-disciplinary approaches and applications in the design of new on-demand fashion accessories, by using a modified anthropomorphic robotic arm. To this end, the project proposes a partnership between ATOMLab, a manufacturing company in the field of footwear design, and WeMake, an innovative community enterprise fully engaged in the maker movement and led by Zoe Romano.
WeMake is an innovative enterprise based in Milan providing services and training to the creative community in the field of digital and traditional manufacturing, giving them access to a fully equipped Fab Lab focused on design and fashion. With its 250sq/mt urban multifunctional factory providing open and membership-based access to digital fabrication tools, WeMake is clearing the difference between prototype and finished object, fostering the development of a new partnership model between the designer-producer (maker) and agile companies. WeMake is a member of the International Fablab Network affiliated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
ATOMLab is the research and innovation laboratory of the ATOM Group. Their mission is to support customers in product and process innovation projects in the specific domains of cutting, outsole and whole shoe injection moulding technologies or, more in general, along the entire shoe manufacturing pipeline. ATOMLab also works as an advanced research team for the companies of the Group, through a cooperative collaboration with the most important Universities in northern Italy and abroad, and consolidated partnerships with the most active and dynamic shoe technology suppliers. ATOMLab is also a laboratory to experiment new schemes of business relationships between users and technology providers aimed at the delivery of a whole new range of “joint innovation management” services.
Interview with Zoe Romano
I’m Zoe Romano and in 2014 I co-founded WeMake. More than an enterprise, WeMake is an urban multifunctional platform providing open and membership based access to digital fabrication tools. The project "Crafting fashion with robots" will involve our team and specifically Francesco Perego, which also worked on Robotrip - our previous research project on a six-axis robot, in collaboration with Caracol Design Studio.
How did you get involved in the OpenMaker project?
We believe that makerspaces and fablabs represent grassroots innovation hubs where professionals meet citizens and inventors with an interdisciplinary attitude. We know that making takes time and innovation doesn’t come from a stroke of genius, so we’re often looking for opportunities around new collaborations and resources that can allow us to dedicate more time to innovative research.
How was the partnership formed?
For almost a year, in our free time we worked on an anthropomorphic robotic arm that we hacked using the fabrication technologies of the fablab to test new manufacturing opportunities. We had the chance to meet the Atom Lab team that are interested in exploring with us the creative aspects revealed by automated craft. OpenMaker seemed the perfect opportunity to foster this vision.
I think that the strength of such partnerships is about being able to look at what we do from different perspectives and the challenge is about finding a common language to create a narrative.
Dream big! What would be the greatest achievement for your project?
With the project “Crafting fashion with robots,” we aim to explore cross-disciplinary approaches and applications in designing new on-demand fashion accessories using a modified anthropomorphic robotic arm. The main challenge is controlling the six-axis robot to perform actions which are not so common.
What do you hope to get out of the OpenMaker experience?
As we consider our company a platform, the idea is to enable the creation of spin-offs that come out of special research projects like this one.
Do you have a favourite inspirational quote?
“Openness is more than a commercial and cultural issue. It’s a matter of survival.” John Thackara