Digitizing designs and projects allows students and faculty more potential to collaborate, critique, and improve. In fall 2019, Pearce brought this technology to a Technical Design class taught by associate chair Deborah Beard. For this course, students create a capstone garment that incorporates an innovative technical element. Past garments have included wearable tech and biodegradable materials. Pearce showed students how to create a 3D virtual reality simulacrum of their projects.
This year, Alan Romo created a coat that can be converted into a dress using cleverly placed zippers. The piece was made with Piňatex, a biodegradable leather-like material made of pineapple leaves, resin, and renewable corn plastic. Once Romo had completed the garment, James Pearce created a virtual version to show alongside the physical version in the Art and Design Gallery. Virtual reality isn’t just for dramatic displays; the digital assets enable the designer to collaborate in real time with suppliers, production teams, and others.
Romo entered a contest at Ideation 2019, a conference organized by the software company Gerber, to create a marketable garment using new technology. Of the 120 international entries, Technical Design students won four of the top five places, with Romo taking first. The garment was also put on display at the Loop for Good, a sustainability showcase and clothing swap held on campus in November.