I am excited that I had the opportunity to join the international project Beyond Seeing. It will be a substantial contribution to my own research. Yet the world of fashion is first and foremost a visual experience. What does fashion stand for blind people? How do they experience colors, fabrics, and surfaces? What do they perceive that we fail to notice or no longer do? What does the term beauty mean for them? And how can fashion be experienced with the other senses than the visual one? Thus, entirely new approaches in fashion design can perhaps emerge? The interdisciplinary project Beyond Seeing is willing to find answers to these questions by organising international research workshops, an exhibition, and a discursive accompanying program. The project is aimed at making fashion perceptible beyond the visual stimuli, in an interaction of sensory perceptions. The first step is to identify the needs and aspirations of blind and visually impaired people (affiliation, perception, and esteem, individual fulfillment, integration).
During the firs meeting, that was held in Goethe’s Institute (Paris) on the 25th-26th October we watched an artistic movie by blindfolding ourselves and discussed different way of “seeing” afterward. We had several interactive workshops were design students, artists together with seeing and non-seeing people, developed creative approaches allowing fashion to be explored with other senses than sight. The first meeting was very inspiring and promising, I see the potential that our group (four schools) will make something amazing and contribute to the field of non-visual aspects of clothing and narrow the border between sighted people and people who have visual impairment.
There are several partners that are participating in the project Beyond Seeing. There are four different schools: The Swedish School of Textiles (Borås, Sweden), ESMOD (Berlin, Germany), IFM (Paris, France), and La Cambre (Brussels, Belgium). There are involved four association for blind and visually impaired people: The Swedish Association of the Visually Impaired (Sweden), VIEWS International (Belgium), Deutscher Blinden und Sehbehindertenverband (Germany), and Fédération des Aveugles (France).