YUKTI       V.           AGARWAL


designing for impact //
designing with purpose //



︎ I am a current honors student in the Brown /RISD Dual Degree Program.

I work in interdisciplinary spaces– combining rigorous research with a human-centered approach to reimagine societies, cultures, and futures.



︎ MORE ABOUT ME HERE
YUKTI       V.           AGARWAL

designing for impact //
designing with purpose //



︎ I am a current honors student in the Brown /RISD Dual Degree Program.

I work in interdisciplinary spaces– combining rigorous research with a human-centered approach to reimagine societies, cultures, and futures.

︎ READ MORE ABOUT ME HERE


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︎ NĪLĀMBARI NIGHTWEAR




Timeline
6 weeks (April-May ‘22)

Independent Project

Tools
︎ Pashmina Wool, Cotton, Silk Yarns
︎ Silver Reed Double-Bed Knitting Machine
︎ Adobe Illustrator, Pointcarré, Miro, Adobe Photoshop 


Skills
︎ Double-Bed Knitting, Pattern Drafting, Hand-Seaming, Draping, Color Swatching, Garment Construction,Scientific Research 






︎ THE PROBLEM  


Can a material have therapeutic properties in the same way that music has a therapeutic effect on the human body?

If yes, how can this material be created to represent music accurately in visual form? 



︎ THE IMPACT


Redefining the manner in which preventative and curative alternative medicine has been viewed, and seeing material lifestyle changes as a way to improve the quality of life. This project aims to bring mindfullness practices and beliefs into the lives of consumers by imbibing them in products through visually aesthetic and pleasing modalities. 

COMMITEMENT TO HOME-GROWN–– This product has been developed to be produced primarily in India, at least for the initial launch. All the materials used are local to the Indian subcontinent, to reduce the carbon footprint:

︎︎︎Ahimsa Silk (made without killing the silk worms)
︎︎︎Fair-Trade, Organic Cotton (which is produced without the use of pesticides, child labour, and human right’s code violoations)
︎︎︎Pashmina (rather than Cashmere, that has a larg global carbon-footprint)


ACT ON ACCESS–– This project aims to consider manners in which music can be made physiologically accessible to disabled peoples specifically those from the deaf community.

︎ THE APPROACH


After dabbling with a thought experiment, the problem is approached through a engineered solution.

The process included: 

Phase 1– Research 
The research phases is an intensive process that employs tools of research. The scope of the research outlines & examines: 
︎ A clear Research Question, Project Aims, Topical Relevance, and Key Terms
︎ Scientific representations of sound in visual media, and the relationship between sound & body
︎ Cultural representations of sound in visual media
Paintings
︎ Design research into etymology, material research, color research, etc. 
︎ Developing visual represenations of sound based on research


Phase 2– Fabric Development
︎ Sampling, Color Swatching, & Concept Consolidation
︎ Knit Down Developments 
︎ Fabric Quality & Function Analysis 
︎ Recontextualizing & Considering Fabric Applications 
︎ Video Development to Explain & Simplify the Porcess and Concept


Phase 3– Garment Development
 
︎ Engineering the Garment (through choice of fabric & construction) 
︎ Studying the Garment in Motion 
︎ Visual Experiments to Consider Healing Properties (A space to further research in the future) 




PHASE 1– RESEARCH



︎ OVERVIEW



︎︎︎RESEARCH QUESTION:


How can textiles –which surround all dimensions of the human body at all given times in this day and age– vibrate at the same frequency as a music, and thus be used as a tool for healing and mindful living in the same way that music has done for centuries?

︎︎︎PROJECT AIM:


This project aims to analyze and evaluate the potential of tactile mediums (specifically textiles) to transmit energy through a mode of visual sound graphing of ragas, in an attempt to understand how certain patterns can be used and touch.

︎︎︎RELEVANCE:


Research into what one might call a ‘music textile’, ‘acoustic textile’, or even ‘mindful textile’  is currently unexplored, and this projects attempts to further pre-existing knowledge of psychosomatic practices and modalities of healing.
KEY TERMS & PHRASES:

︎︎︎Sensory Experiences
︎︎︎Material Transmission
︎︎︎Psychosomaticism
︎︎︎Sound as Tactility
︎︎︎Translation
︎︎︎Energy
︎︎︎Embodiment
︎︎︎Apparel as Second Skin
︎︎︎Sound Graphs
︎︎︎Cell Structure




︎ SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH  


︎︎︎Recent research into the effect of music, naturalistic and artificial sounds on the human body (Gould van Praag et al., 2017) showed that playing certain sounds affects the bodily systems that control the flight-or-fright and rest-digest autonomic nervous systems, with associated effects in the resting activity of the brain. 

︎︎︎Supported by several other research conclusions, ‘healing’ sounds are said to have a lasting, and positive impact on the human body. 

︎︎︎However, there is limited research into what effect visual representations of sound may have on the body. 


KNOWLEDGE QUESTIONS:


︎︎︎ What does it mean to see sound?
︎︎︎ What does it mean to physically feel sound that is converted into a visual?
︎︎︎ Can the body respond to the visual representation of sound the way it does to auditory sound?
︎︎︎ Can a textile vibrate with the same frequency and have the same effect as a frequency of sound, if it were to have a visual representation of a sound graph?
︎︎︎ Can the textile with a visual representation of sound create the same effect as music?


VISUAL INTERPRETATIONS OF SOUND: 


Throughout the course of history scholars, artists, and creators have interpret sound in various manners: 

Aristotelian Physics
Waves of water as waves of sound


Pythagorus’s ‘Harmony of the Universe’ Theory
View of the universe depicting harmonic distributions of musical intervals


Hans Jenny’s Cynamatics
Sonorous photographs capturing the image of sound by clothing it in a material body
Kandinsky’s ‘Visual Music’ 
Abstract art filled with symbols and iconography based on how music qualitatively ‘felt’



THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOUND & BODY: 


︎︎︎Goethes philosophy on human visual perception is that neither sound nor light is perceptible to the human without the human consciousness to perceive it.

︎︎︎Human psychology and perception; consciousness alongside brainwave activity; and the body, soon became clear components.

︎︎︎By reading the work of Deak (1990), Campbell (1995), Demarco and Clarke (2001), Barber (1999), Anderson (1989), Khalsa (2001), Hollwich (1979), Pigott (2006) and Oschs (1994) it became clear that rhythm, repetition, harmony and rates of vibration interact with brainwave activity.

Can the textile with a visual representation of sound create the same effect as music?



︎ CULTURAL & HISTORIC RESEARCH  


For many years, Eastern traditions have supported the idea that sound can in fact be translated into visual form, and it has a healing effect on the experiencer.


VISUAL INTERPRETATIONS OF SOUND:


Paintings
Seeing geometric shapes are the semblance of the sound that was created during the birth of the universe


Paintings 
Shapes, symbols and certain motifs are emitting sacred sound 


Paintings
Mood, color, and time of day, as an indication of symphonies 



STUDY OF RAGAMALA PAINTINGS, RAGA & RASA:  


︎︎︎ A raga is a range of musical modes arranged in specific sequences.

︎︎︎ Ragamala paintings are a form of Indian miniature paintings that represent ragamalas, or ‘garlands of ragas’.

︎︎︎ Each painting, therefore, represents a specific mood in its different facets and devotion.

︎︎︎  Occasionally, they are accompanied by a brief poetic inscription to aid this communication.

︎︎︎ They stand as a classical example of the amalgamation of art, poetry and classical music in medieval India.

︎︎︎ Ragamala paintings were the tangible legacy of the effects, and wisdom that was held in the time-tested tradition. 

︎︎︎ In the Indian context, the goal of a ragamala paintings, or a ragas, or any form of art for that matter, is said to evoke RASA– an essence, emotion of the ‘juice’. The biological effect to RASA twice-fold– due to their invoctions to music and visual appeal. 


KNOWLEDGE QUESTIONS:


Ragas have the potential to evoke rasa and transform bodily functions– how can that be converted into a tool that is perennially interacting with an individual’s body?

︎︎︎ Can the visual representation of sound evoke rasa the way that sound can?

︎︎︎ How do clothes affect the wellness (physical and emotional) of the body? If one were to wear clothes made from textiles with visual representations of ragas, would they have the same effect of healing and evoking rasa as the sound?





︎ DESIGN RESEARCH THROUGH THE NĪLĀMBARI RAGA  



SLEEP ARCHITECTURE: 


Neelambari, the raga of the night, is associated deeply with sleep. It is said to invoke REM sleep cycles. In the South of India, most lullabys are sung to the foundtional symphony of this raga. 



ETYMOLOGY:



NĪLA︎︎︎ Blue 
AMBARI︎︎︎ (similar to Hemp or Cotton)


NĪLĀMBARI︎︎︎ Blue Cloth / Clothed in Blue / Blue Sky 


︎︎︎Can the sky be used as a visual reference?


NĪLĀMBARI RAGAMALA PAINTINGS:


Neelambari ragamala paintings are supposed to have the effect of bringing peace, calm, and sleep to the viewer.

Colors from these iconic ragamala paintings which depicted the ritual of sleep were used to extrapolate color references, to complement the ‘sky’ references.





MATERIAL RESEARCH: 


THE MATERIAL & COLOR OF SLEEP: 


The most common material for nightwear in the Indian context is cotton. Wool and silk, to allow the body to retain heat for melatonin regeneration, which results in more peaceful and deep sleep.

The color of the material is often reserved to white, as it ensures peace and serenity during sleep hours. However, if one is to entertain before sleep, colors such as red and blue are also used, based on the occasion and nature of the guest. 


THE RITUAL OF SLEEP:


The ritual of sleep as seen in the Indian context, has always been dictated by many materials and objects. It employs materials native to the landscape: cotton and wool are the most widely used for their softness and versitility.

The ritual of sleep include, but are not limited to:

︎︎︎Removing all daily ornaments such as jewels, hair accessories, and adornments

︎︎︎Bathing and dressing in the choice of sleepwear 

︎︎︎Combing one’s hair, and applying lotions and oils


REPRESENTING NĪLĀMBARI VISUALLY:  


The manner in which the raga sequence could be depicted were hand-drawn and tested. These experiments were used to develop further patterns. 


One of the methods of frequency mapping was finally adopted to create the stripe pattern: 





︎ RESEARCH SUMMARY 


A brief collection of all research findings were visually arranged to further understand the matter: 




PHASE 2– FABRIC DEVELOPMENT 


︎ SAMPLING, COLOR SWATCHING, CONCEPT CONSOLIDATION







︎ KNIT DOWN SWATCHING





︎ FABRIC QUALITY & FUNCTION ANALYSIS 



exploring air pocket formation in a fabric to prevent perspiration, while finishing in a beautiful scalloped edge:





exploring the potential to create visual complexity using striping in pattern through eyelet formations such without changing colors, yarn, or stitch size and gauge: 



exploring a two-sided fabric construction such that soft cotton is on the inside, and warm pashm & silk is on the outside:
 



exploring body shaping and stretchability with scalloped edge finishings, to make it loose, yet fitted, in an efficient manner without change in the number of stitches: 






︎ RECONTEXTUALIZING & CONSIDERING FABRIC APPLICATIONS


To understand the useage of these fabrics, quick conceptual application sketches in apparel and home furnishings were created, for example:

 
︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎︎




︎ PROCESS & CONCEPT EXPLAINATION


In order to make this project more understandable and accessible to all types of audiences, a simple, audio visual video was created explaining the cultural context, and illustrating bits of the process to develop the fabrics.






PHASE 3– GARMENT DEVELOPMENT


︎ NIGHTWEAR IN THE INDIAN CONTEXT 


The first garment for nightwear was the Indian Saree (6-9m of fabric tied around the body): 

Later, a ‘nightie’ that draped similarly to the saree, but was more practical was seen:

During the British Raj, the Europeans adopted the nightie due to its soft Indian cotton fabric:

Today, ‘nighties’ are an integral part of Indian popular culture. The plaid pattern is more often seen in these modern ‘nighties’: 


 
︎︎︎ Using the reference of nighties, sarees, and plaid patterns, this nightie was a amalgamation of the old traditions of nightwear in India, and the new modern takes in local pop culture.

︎︎︎ The aim was to develop a ‘modern nightie’. The fabric developed for the overlying robe, allows a plaid pattern to develop using layering. 



︎ ENGINEERING THE GARMENT


CHOOSING THE FABRIC: 



The fabrics chosen were part of a collection that championed horizontal and vertical stripes that echoed the symphony in the Neelambari Raga

︎︎︎The fabric attempts to mimic the ‘Mashru Weave’ that has soft cotton on the inner side of the fabric, and only allows the natural fibers of the cotton to touch the skin, while showcasing the silk and pashm threads on the outer side to add visual variety.

︎︎︎The fabric has small areas of pockets that are made using olive silk, and old rose pashm floats to capture heat in the body. 

︎︎︎The other areas, (in the white cotton), have eyelets in the symphony pattern, to allow ventilation from the body.

.




DESIGNING THE GARMENT: 






︎ STUDYING THE GARMENT IN MOTION


︎︎︎ The garment is stretchy, easily morphable and easy to move around in as it responds to the wearer

︎︎︎It hugs the body– as second skin almost, and flows with the body during any motion 



︎ VISUAL EXPERIMENTS TO CONSIDER HEALING PROPERTIES 


The last experiment harked back to the idea of the garment as a mode for therapeutic benefits to the body for sleep patterns. Some preliminary visual experiments illustrate how nature (related to natural materials such as cotton or silk) can be used as a space to consider merging with the human body.





︎ REFLECTION

User Research would have complemented my scientific and cultural research– 
While I had a rigorous process of research, I believe that having some mor euser research would have helped me to have a more human-centered approach to designing this garment, and studying it for its healing properties. 

User Testing of the garment after creation would help understand the properties of healing–
One further step, that I want to explore is testing this garment, by allowing users to analyse and assess their qualitiative feelings when using
this product.





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