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Diversifying the Tech Aesthetic

November 30, 2016

Two students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) are attempting to disrupt the gendered aesthetic of wearable tech. Zoe Schlacter and Amelia Zhang, who met in RISD’s integrative making space, Co-works, have launched a line of wearable tech that aims to promote inclusive and broadened conceptions of the tech aesthetic. Their line, TELEXST, subverts the traditional tech aesthetic by incorporating decorative, feminine designs that contrast the alienating, masculine understanding of what “tech” should look like. Schlacter and Zhang want to diversify the normative aesthetic as wearable tech becomes more and more common.

“Most of the tech we interact with is white and silver, sleek, minimalist, masculine in aesthetic. For the most part, our tech lacks decorative, feminine aesthetics. We believe this aesthetic dominance can be seen in tandem with the lack of women and marginalized identities in tech fields.”

The design process behind TELEXST employs what Schlacter calls “post digital craft,” combining digital fabrication and handcrafted processes to produce a final product. Schlacter and Zhang hope TELEXST, and other initiatives like it, will push leaders in the tech world to begin rethinking the parameters that define our understanding and expectations of wearable tech, accounting for a broader consumer base and beginning to re-form our collective interpretation of what the tech aesthetic can — and should — represent.

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Image courtesy of Amelia Zhang.

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