Magazine

First Person | Globe Magazine

Designing clothes to empower people with unique needs

Grace Jun, education director at MIT’s Open Style Lab, on combining fashion, science, and occupational therapy to make inclusive designs.

Cambridge, Ma., 07\27\16, FOR FIRST PERSON. Grace Jun at the Open Style lab at MIT. Suzanne Kreiter\Globe staff

Suzanne Kreiter\Globe staff

I went to the Rhode Island School of Design for graphic design. I wanted to go into fashion editorial, but I interned at a few fashion magazines, and it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I worked at Samsung and designed smartphones. I saw the rise of the wearable with the Apple Watch. There was so much potential with design and technology [other] than having all these apps on your wrist. So I left and went to Parsons for my master’s in design and technology.

My thesis [was] about women who had breast cancer. After surgery, a lot of women wear ice packs on their chests. So we designed tops with inside pockets where the fabric absorbs water from the ice pack — just really small things that could empower women.

Advertisement

[In 2015] I reached out to Open Style Lab. I’ve been hit by a car, so I know what it feels like to not be able to move. My responsibilities at Open Lab were designing the curriculum: How do you integrate the right resources to [let] designers, engineers, and occupational therapists work together?

The [fashion] show is really focused on our four clients and our 12 design fellows. One client is a wheelchair user who needs clothing that’s more breathable. One client has autism. She rips everything apart. For her parents to go through so much clothing is an economic burden. We worked with our partner Bemis to make a seamless [garment] that’s durable and non-rippable.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

I love teaching. Soon a lot of the Open Lab [leadership] responsibilities will be transferred to me. I’ll be developing some of the research; I hope to continue it and not just make one-offs. In wearable tech, we can learn a lot from this arena of inclusive design.

FASHION SHOW See the Open Style Lab 2016 Final Show on August 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. Visit openstylelab.com.

This story has been updated to clarify that the Bemis partnership lead to a seamless garment.

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.
We hope you've enjoyed your free articles.
Continue reading by subscribing to Globe.com for just 99¢.
 Already a member? Log in Home
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com