QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir


QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

Show RCA 2011: coded patterns on this beaded dress by Royal College of Art graduate Thorunn Arnadottir feed information to smart phones when photographed.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

The QR U? dress features graphic codes that a mobile app can recognise and translate into images, links to websites or text.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

The tribal styling references the way social networks are often described as online tribes.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

Arnadottir designed the dress for pop star Kali of Icelandic group Steed Lord using Swarovski crystals.

QR U? by Thorunn Arnadottir

She also made an eye mask that directs photographers to make a charity donation (above).

The project can be seen at Show RCA 2011 in London until 3 July.

See all our stories about Show RCA 2011 »

The text below is from Arnadottir:


In only a few years the combination of the Internet’s social networks and digital cameras on mobile phones have changed the way we express our identities. Individual expression has been made significantly easier and the route to fame more accessible. It has also turned all of us into our own "paparazzis".

Reading through some articles and texts about the effect of technology on our society I found the word "tribal" to be a reoccurring term used to describe it.

To use a very analogue culture as a reference to describe the effect of high tech on our society I find very interesting and this led me to how beads have been used as a communication tool and to express individual identity in African culture and how we also use "beads" (pixels) in the digital culture as a communication tool and to express our identities online.

QR U? explores the juxtaposition of self promotion and personal privacy in this new environment. Could traditional African bead craft be used in it's original function of communicating identity but used with modern technology in contemporary context?

Inspired by african beads and masks that use decorative symbols to communicate identity, designer Thorunn Arnadottir beaded Swarovski crystals into QR codes to explore notions of self promotion and personal privacy in todays digitally networked environment. By taking a picture with a smart phone with a QR reader application you can access the online identity that hides behind these patterns.

The 'Super self-promotional dress' designed for Icelandic pop star, Kali from Steed Lord directs the photographer to a number of links, including the band's videos, music sites and an unique animation of the QR code itself.

The 'Privacy glasses' are on the boundaries of a mask and sunglasses, high-fashion and theatrical. They give an air of importance, like famous people in Venice would wear elaborate masks, or Hollywood stars wear big flashy sunglasses. When they are scanned you will be given the option to pay a set sum to a charity chosen by the celebrity. The glasses commodify the privacy of the celebrity to the benefit of the charity. Donate to the charity and the identity of the person will be revealed.

  • felix

    Putting QR codes on clothes is clever. Rest of the project bit of a let down. The clothes simply aren't attractive and there's no images of the online presence of the clothing.

    Looking at Thorunn's website he's obviously a decent designer, fashion is maybe something he needs more practice in.

    • jorge RCA

      Thorunn's is a she, not a he. You're obviously a decent writer, research is maybe something you need more practice in.

  • Marie

    I agree with Felix.
    Being myself a designer I will expect that a designer from RCA, will create more of a WOW factor in her design. The idea is clever but using grey as a base color for a so simple basic cut dress makes the whole impact weaken. Black will have made a bigger statement/impact even though is a common color. The dress remembers me the Native North American Tribes designs and patterns, which clear understood color palettes and color mixes were a visual language.

  • horrible haridas

    no opinion – i'd like to hear from kali about what he/she thinks

  • i think it's a very beautiful and well thought out piece. at first i thought its inspiration was drawn from african jewelry and crafts which bore imagery unique to a tribe and its ancestory. they also had carried social messages such as what state in her life a man or women was in.

  • Lovely, great idea, where Wapun Beads meet QR Code!