Rapidly developing flight technology will make personal flying vehicles commercially viable in the near future according to Benjamin Males, co-founder of London-based fashion and technology company Studio XO, who developed the Volantis for Lady Gaga.
"Volantis might seem very science fiction," says Males, "but if you consider the developments in vehicle design, if you look at the trends toward space travel and jet pack design, actually the idea of having a personal aerial vehicle that has to have style doesn't seem that crazy".
"Who knows, in ten years time we may all be flying round in Volantises," he adds.
Volantis is remote controlled and flies using 12 battery-powered propellors. Flown by a trained pilot who specialises in unmanned vehicles, it was unveiled with Lady Gaga at a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York City, in November last year.
Speaking to Dezeen at Studio XO's London headquarters, Males explains how the aircraft is powered by 12 rotor blades and borrows technology commonly used in the manufacture of drones.
"It's known as a hex 12. It has six arms and 12 rotors. Each arm has two rotors which provide the thrust to lift [it] off the ground," he says.
The truss section at the centre of the aircraft, to which Gaga was fastened by a belt, is made of titanium. The rotors and her custom-made bodice are made of carbon fibre.
The passenger stands inside a white bodice that is connected to the truss. "Although the machine had to be strong, we also wanted it to have the affordances of fashion. So we made a very beautiful front casing which completed the dress," says Males.
White cylinders surround the rotors in hexagonal formation and connect in the centre above the dress, which rests on the ground using a circular stand when not in flight.
Studio XO has also worked with other high-profile artists including the Black Eyed Peas and Azealia Banks, to create hybrid stage costumes that combine fashion and technology.
"We bring these subjects together, in this space – in this quite unique environment," says Males, who is now working on the launch of a new ready-to-wear brand developing some of the ideas from the company's stage work.
Dezeen and MINI Frontiers is a year-long collaboration with MINI exploring how design and technology are coming together to shape the future.
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