Dezeen Magazine

Built to Wear by Ball-Nogues Studio

Los Angeles designers Ball-Nogues Studio have completed a temporary, dragon-like installation made from 10,000 items of clothing hanging on cords (+ movie).

Called Built to Wear, the project is part of the Shenzhen & Hong Kong bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture that opened in China last week, and was assembled by 30 volunteers from Shenzhen.

The installation, made up of garments donated by American Apparel, will be gradually dismantled as the clothes are given to visitors, finally ending on 23 January 2010.

Images are by Benjamin Ball unless otherwise stated.

See our other stories about the Shenzen & Hong Kong Biennale:

Monster's Footprints by MAD
Bug Dome by WEAK!
Bloody Haze by MAP Office
Shenzhen & Hong Kong Biennale photos
The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Mésarchitectures

Here's some more information from Ball-Nogues Studio:


Temporary spatial installations within urban cultures are a rapidly evolving phenomenon.  Unlike “permanent” buildings, these structures nimbly respond to the accelerated temporality of cities on the move like Shenzhen and Hong Kong. Increasingly they provide the urban spectacles that “signature” buildings aim to deliver.

Like never before, cities are adorned with provisional environments and architecturally scaled events. This situation has been further emboldened by the financial meltdown in 2008 as investors look to spend money on big urban spectacles without the financial commitment of making buildings.


Within this economic outlook, the disposable plates of architecture are better investments than a collection of fine tableware. However, an important question looms when cleaning up after the meal: can the plate be composted or should it be colored with crayon and reused as a party decoration?

Built to Wear, constructed for the 2009 Shenzhen Hong Kong Biennale of Urbanism will be on view through January 23 2010 in the underground exhibition space at the Shenzhen Civic Square.

Above image by Brianna Gorton.

Invoking the theme of the exhibition - City Mobilization – the construction of the installation activated collaboration between Ball Nogues Studio, American Apparel, the Biennale organizers and a group of 30 volunteers from Shenzhen. This hanging architecturally scaled structure is comprised of 10,000 items of clothing manufactured by American Apparel – operator of the largest garment factory in the United States.

Each garment serves the dual role of building component and individual article of clothing. Over the course of the Biennale, the installation will be dismantled and the T-shirts, muscles shirts, spaghetti tank tops, baby dresses, bikinis and g-strings comprising it will be dispersed to visitors.

At a time when most US garment production has moved offshore, Built to Wear invites viewers to contemplate the relocation of manufacturing from the developed world to emerging economic powers like China while reconsidering notions of material life-cycle in architecturally scaled structures.

By using a coveted consumer good – the garment - as its basic building block the project expands and critiques notions of “green’ architecture while activating public space through consumption.

As a visual concept, the installation will serve as a symbolic gesture of sustainability and a poetic reminder that the buildings in our cities are impermanent: frozen moments in the flow of products through the tributaries of global exchange. Outside of its environmental commentary, the project dramatically re-contextualizes the clothing item – a symbol of mass consumerism - into an alternative gesture of hope.