Open Style Lab teams up design, engineering and occupational therapy students to create clothing solutions for people with disabilities or their caretakers. It is a 10-week, Saturday-only program in Boston, MA, run by the MIT Assistive Technology Club.
Many events, physical locations and social groups have spoken and unspoken dress codes. While wheelchair accessible ramps have made their way to many of our building entrances, ‘accessible fashion’ is a concept which has not even crossed the minds of most able-bodied people today.
We aim to serve people with medical conditions that reduce their ability to independently dress themselves, or significantly limit the selection of clothing they can wear.
Here is a short documentary on how Open Style Lab works:
Multidisciplinary Approach to a Complex Issue
Designing clothing for people with disabilities is a complex challenge, requiring style, functionality and an understanding of healthcare considerations.
Hence, we’re inviting design, engineering and occupational therapy students to combine forces, and synergize their unique perspective and skills.
User-Centered Design Project with Social Impact
Teams of students are paired with clients who have specific apparel needs related to their medical conditions.
By spending time with clients in daily life settings, students gain a full understanding of their clothing-related challenges. Students and clients design and prototype functional yet stylish clothing solutions together, that address their client’s concerns in this user-centered design process. Each team will be given $500 to develop their clothing solution.
Mentorship and Professional Development
Teams are not alone in this process: Expert mentors, also comprising designers, engineers and occupational therapists, will provide guidance over the course of the project.
Students will also hear from leaders in wearable technology and adaptive design, and be immersed in workshops on developing a business plan and assembling a technical packet. These concrete skills will help equip our teams, if they wish, to commercialize their designs.
At the end of the program, teams will be given the opportunity to showcase their designs publicly at the Museum of Science, Boston.
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