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Fashion and New technologies week (Onl’fait - HEAD school)

At HEAD, the Geneva school of art and design, students develop projects through workshops and seminars as well as collaboration with private and public professional partners. HEAD offers - among several others - a bachelor and a master in Fashion Design: the collaboration with Onl’fait was established with two professors of this branch, one of which participated in 4 modules of Fabricademy in 2020-21. Though being an innovative school, the HEAD BA doesn’t offer courses on e-textiles and students don’t have direct access to digital fabrication machines, which are normally operated by school technicians. The collaboration developed along 3 main axes: 1) introducing the students to the use of 2D and 3D modeling software 2) learning how to use machines like a CNC and a laser cutter applied in textile manufacturing 3) being exposed to different approaches of designing and production at the Fab Lab demonstrating small scale local manufacturing workflows The chosen format was a one week bootcamp at Onl’fait for 24 students who could choose to work on e-textiles; leather moulding, 3D modeling and the use of the CNC; modular fashion and the use of a laser cutter. The week started with a plenary presentation about fashion, sustainability and new technologies. The students split in three groups and worked on a concept of a bag until Friday, when each pair presented a working prototype to their peers and other invitees. The bags - with electronics, in leather or assembled without sewing - were exhibited at the hall of the Manufacture Collaborative (MACO) for 2 weeks. The MACO is the first and only third space dedicated to urban and collaborative manufacturing in the Geneva region; the participants also had the opportunity to visit the other associations installed at MACO. The bootcamp was also the occasion to use Zines as evaluation tools to stimulate the participants to self-reflect on themes like gender and fashion or technology. The first day students built their Bootcamp journal (zine) and at the end of each day we proposed a topic to think about (gender, sustainability, technology, my expectations…). Students had to elaborate the topic in the zine with drawings, texts, collage… at the end of the week we used the zine as a tool to discuss and evaluate the participation of the participants. Students were extremely engaged and motivated and we felt that spending a full week together was a great way to establish meaningful professional and personal relationships. Students were encouraged to test different ideas and they had enough time to make several prototypes and exchange with their peers.

Introduction and context

Path and modules:

  • Leather moulding - Fabricademy module -> Textile scaffold
  • E-textiles - Fabricademy module -> E-textiles
  • Modular fashion - Fabricademy module -> Os Circular Fashion

Name of the activity: Fashion and New technologies week (Onl’fait - HEAD school)

Abstract The “Fashion and New technologies week” has been piloted by Onl’fait in collaboration with HEAD (Art and Design University of Geneva - “Haute Ecole d’Art et Design”) from the 12th to 16th of April 2021. The participants were 2nd year students of Fashion Design. They discover new techniques related to Fashion technologies and digital fabrication.

Objectives The objective of Fashion and New Technologies week is to present participants digital modelling and digital manufacturing techniques focused on textiles. During a week, students will learn the theoretical bases of the chosen techniques and develop props to be presented on the last day of the course. The evaluation criteria will be established in collaboration with the tutors/teachers and will include the documentation of the process.

Target audience and context of use: The activity can be adapted to a broader audience of Bachelor or Master Degree students coming from the field of design, textile, fashion, business, students.

Key learnings: Find the good balance between leaving autonomy and freedom to students and helping them organise their time. Work closely with the teachers to adapt the programme to their specific needs. Leave enough time for exchange and informal learning.

Preparation and materials


  • Location: HEAD and Onl’fait Fab Lab
  • Dates: 12-16 April
  • Schedule: 9:30 am -1:00 pm and 2:00pm – 5:30 pm
  • Participants: 26 students (3 groups). The participants work in pairs.
  • Machines: participants have access to the machines of HEAD and of Onl’fait and an instructor for each group.

The 26 participants are separated in 3 groups: - Leather moulding - E-textiles - Modular Fashion

Overview of structure

  • Day 1: Introduction (with everyone), separation in the 3 groups.
  • Day 2: Learning new techniques and processes, start designing their products
  • Day 3: Mid presentation (check point of the project), finishing their design
  • Day 4: Making their product
  • Day 5: finishing their product, Preparation and Final Presentation

The participants form pairs and decide in advance the group they want to attend. All pairs in each group need to end with a finished product (bag) and a presentation explaining their journey making it. Each group had different teachings but the main aims for whatever subjects the participants will learn, they have to have:

  • a warm up: (quizzes, games, icebreakers, inspirational talks)
  • a theoretical: (content presentation through webinars, lectures, mini presentation of topics) and/or
  • a practical: (Hands-on activities, demonstration, step by step tutorials, pre-recorded or live) and/or
  • a challenge: (makeathons, group exercises, individual projects), for open
  • practices and evaluation.
  • Closing activity: with takings, impacts, feedback, reflections. (in this case it is the zines)

Evaluation Criteria The students were graded by their tutor and by the Lab. There were only two grades: passed and failed. This grading system was decided by the tutor of la HEAD. There is ECTS but each university, each course and each module is different. In this case this week was part of the module “Fashion and New technologies week” and the student needed to do at least 30 hours which represent 1 credits.

Additionally we used zine as a form of self-evaluation of each day and the overall experience.

Tips to facilitate the activity in context (to-do / not do)

To do: Identify the needs of the collaborating design and fashion institute Make sure to have competent instructors and offer tested activities Focus on what you can offer to complement the teaching experience and let the institute manage the parts they are experts on Define the objectives with the school Adapt to the school planning Practice the activities beforehand Show concrete examples of the artifacts to inspire the participants When introducing the evaluation zine, show them examples so they have any idea on what to write. Have them at least half a day to do the final presentation. make sure to organise who is bringing what (Lab or the university) and that the university’s machines are booked for that week if used. Make powerpoints with examples of today’s designers that use the techniques that they will learn. It is good to give examples of traditional techniques with local industries. Make sure that you keep up with each person so they don’t fall behind. Ideal group size is 8 people. Within each activity you need to make sure that they are 3 phases: Warm ups, Theoretical and Practical make sure that the time for the zine is respected and done.

Not to do: Don’t make them go too complex with their design so they at least have a finished product in the end.



Licence and credits

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Last update: February 2, 2022