Clothes that change colour according
to climate by Lauren Bowker

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Wearable Futures: alchemist Lauren Bowker has embedded ink that changes colour depending on different climatic conditions into a feathered garment (+ movie).

Bowker designs clothing and sculptures to demonstrate how the inks she has developed blend from one colour to another depending on the surrounding environment.

Ink and materials that change colour according to climate by Lauren Bowker
PHNX fashion piece

Her extravagant PHNX fashion pieces were made from feathers impregnated with the ink, which respond to light, heat and friction so they ripple with changing tones as the wearer moves.

"I chose the feathers because the piece was about the birth of something new and the piece goes through dark phases to light, which is meant to be spiritual," Bowker told Dezeen at the Wearable Futures conference where she presented the project earlier this week.

Ink and materials that change colour according to climate by Lauren Bowker
PHNX fashion piece

She also collaborated with photographer Ryan Hopkinson to create Valediction, a sculpture made from white leaves covered in thermochromatic ink so they would turn blue when they became hot. When the piece was ignited, the colours mapped the destruction before it occurred.

Bowker began her research by creating a pollution-absorbent ink called PdCl2, which changes colour from yellow to black in dirty conditions then reverts back in fresh air.

At the Royal College of Art she developed the product into ink that can respond to a variety of different environmental conditions.

Ink and materials that change colour according to climate by Lauren Bowker
PHNX fashion piece

"I graduated with an ink which is respondent to seven different parameters in the environment," Bowker said. "Not only will it absorb air pollution, it will change colour to UV, heat, air friction, moisture and more. This gives it the capability to go through the full RGB scale."

"Each ink works very differently, it depends on what sort of material you want to apply it to," she added.

The inks can be applied to most materials using various methods, depending on the characteristics of the surface. "You can screen-print it,  paint it, spray it, or alternatively you can dye things with it, impregnating the fibres with the colour," Bowker explained.

Ink and materials that change colour according to climate by Lauren Bowker
Valediction sculpture

After presenting the technology in fashion pieces, it was picked up by a range of companies who asked her to collaborate on projects including a concept aeroplane cabin by Airbus. "Everyone saw this technology and saw their own vision of how they could use it," said Bowker.

She can customise the inks to change colour in specific places by mapping the conditions at the locations and creating an ink to respond to these parameters.

"If you came to me and said 'Lauren, I want my silk jersey to change colour when I'm at Oxford Street, then when I'm at Baker Street I want to be a different colour', I would go out and map the fluctuations in the environment of each tube station then I would create you an ink that responds to those environments," Bowker said.

Bowker recently set up The Unseen, a design house for biological and chemical technology house to raise awareness of the product and further the applications of her creation by making it more affordable. The company aims to launch a collection using the materials at London Fashion Week in February 2014.

Ink and materials that change colour according to climate by Lauren Bowker
Valediction sculpture

In the future, Bowker hopes the inks will be adopted by the medical industry: "If it goes into a T-shirt that lets you know if you're going to have an asthma attack, that for me is much more successful than having an amazing fashion collection."

Bowker presented her work at the Wearable Futures conference at Ravensbourne in London, which concluded yesterday.

Here is some more information from the designer:

Multi-award winning alchemist Lauren Bowker leads prophetic art house The Unseen. Focused on Seeing The Unseen; The Unseen is a luxury design house and consultancy that integrates biological, chemical and electronic technology into fashion, through materials.


"The Unseen believes technology IS magic. My vision is to create a world of seamlessly captivating science; through exquisite couture, luxury products and opulent materials; in lieu of the believer searching for special pieces and unique experiences. To do this I will build a House and environment that both appeal intriguingly and aesthetically. That is well informed, well educated, inventive and sensitive to both Technology and Design. Offering luxury attire enhanced with technical magic that will lead fashion. I trust in the unseen world around us, it can offer beauty, magic and faith. I want others to see what I see."

Ink and materials that change colour according to climate by Lauren Bowker
Valediction sculpture


A collaboration with genius Ryan Hopkinson.

Valediction depicts the burning of a sculpture made entirely from the skeletons of leaves, hand painted in Thermochromic, Heat tracking Pigments to appear blue. The sculpture, once ignited, acts as a mapping tool of its own destruction. The Thermochromatic treatment allows the viewer to witness patterns of heat flux in real time as the leaves combust and the flames propagate. With a starting height of eight feet the sculpture is reduced to nothing within ten seconds leaving only ash and a limited number of high resolution photographs as physical proof of it's existence. On first glance aesthetic beauty conceals the technology, while the true nature of the sculpture is exposed through destruction by flame. Data is made available and witnessed in real-time, illustrating a new platform for physical visualisation.


Through the expansion of many types of ink PHNX is an original take on dynamic chromic imaging. Using existing and vast variables from the immediate human habitat as an external input to the PHNX sensory ink, forming an array of new Chromic materials within natural structures. Resulting in a constructed and dynamically controlled textile that is capable of constantly evolving, continually changing colour state in front of the viewer's eyes. Inspired by reincarnation and the cycle of life PHNX was intended to enhance the beauty of Technology in materials and the imagination of experimentation within Fashion providing an aesthetic that provokes discourse on beauty of materials in fashion, technology, interaction and data.

Ink and materials that change colour according to climate by Lauren Bowker
Valediction sculpture


The multi award winning PdCl2 ink is designed to treat the symptoms of hazardous lifestyles we live in today. The Chromic Dye is capable of reacting in the presence of carbon emission. Presenting a reversible colour change from yellow to black. The surrounding concept addresses issues in health as a result of passive smoking, logically evolving into a platform that aesthetically visualises environmental conditions. Using Material to offer an innovative language within visual communication.

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  • post

    I looked at the movie and didn’t see any of the described effects of the ink. I saw a lot of special effects to make it work. To me it looks like one of the many designer students in a long row acting like scientist. But why don’t they study science then?