Sabine Seymour: Functional Aesthetics – Book Review

April 13, 2011

Sabine Seymour published her second book entitled Functional Aesthetics – Visions on Fashionable Technology few months ago, following her successful title Fashionable Technology from 2008.

Seymour takes everything into perspective. Firstly, the design of the book – binding and the concept are rather unique. The surface of the hardbook is covered with beige rip fabric showing softness and roughness of the used material at the same time.


Functional Aesthetics by Sabine Seymour (2010)

The covering, of course, associates with the sustainability, textile arts, the sense and tangibility of the textures, vivid glimpses to manufacture productions from the time of our ancestors as a sort of a hommage to numerous anonymous tailors from the era when sewing machines were a necessity of every household. On the front cover you can see immediately the sign of new digitized era – the QR code.

The opening photography is the artwork Garment Graffiti by Thomas Voorn showing the openness and inspirations which characterize the wearable technology scene from the beginning (just remind yourself on the whole guerrilla knitting and yarn bombing movements, too. Fields triggered by street art, graffiti and hip hop).


Photo: Sabine Saymour by Katharina Gossow (c)
Taken from: Fashionable Technology

DIY crafters and tinkerers, programmers and hobbyists, engineers and fashion designers, bio artists and performers could all plunge deep in the medium of the material, regardless of the method, no matter of the preferences: high tech or low tech.

The book opens with a theoretical discussion on Functional aesthetics explaining points of view on ‘augmented body of Fashionable Wearables’, as Seymour stated during her TEDx Vienna talk in November, 2010. The relations of the body itself, bodies between each others’, body in correlation with the space and multiple relations between bodies and the space are in Seymour’s focus.

The theoretical parts of all Sabine Seymour’s texts are never pretentious, or hardly readable, because the author obviously find her self more into practice than in pure discourse.

The book has this tasty narrative and does not serve to author as a moment to ‘show you how smart I am’, but to explain rather different tech and science fields in order to be understandable to either student, designer, scientist or DIY ‘passionista’ hooked up to textile and electronic crafts, we call today wearable technology.


SUN No 01 Zebra by Moondial & Wendy & Jim (c)
From Functional Aesthetics

Functional Aesthetics is divided into following chapters: Body sculpture, The Garment as Amplifier of Fantasy, Scientific Couture, The Epidermis as Metaphor, Material Explorations, Transparent Sustainability, Woven Interface and Context as Prerequisite.

Seymour’s Functional Aesthetics is a logical follow up of her above mentioned precursor title, showing us how the scene is being basically more oriented in last two years towards sculpturally oriented garments, as well as raising high awareness towards performative arts and spaces.


Fashionable Technology by Sabine Seymour (2008)

Origami ornaments, huge plastic shields, sometimes massive sculptures in modern makeover with a plasticity layer, low tech or organic materials are all included as a sign that not only the market and big companies have seriously accepted this fast developing niche of art&fashion&tech playground, but people willing to explore new senses of embodiment and garments. Bioorganic chemistry and soft circuits together in this massive landscape of numerous combinations.

As for the technology issue regarding printing and publishing industry in relation to the new media, Seymour’s book follows new trends by publishing QR codes on every page, making this book easy readable in terms of ubiquitity on your mobile phones and tablet devices.


SUN No 03 Geometrics by Moondial (c)

Sabine Seymour is an innovator based between Vienna and New York. She has studied Social and Economic Sciences at Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Management of Media, Information, and Communication at the Columbia Bussines School – Columbia University and Interactive Telecommunications at the New York University.

She’s the founder of Moondial which develops fashionable wearables and consults on fashionable technology to companies worldwide. Sabine is the Director of Fashionable Technology Lab at Parsons The New School for Design in New York and lectures worldwide at numerous institutions like the University of Arts and Industrial Design Linz and the Swedish School of Textiles. (bio taken from

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