These are the notes of one of our first meetings. I was writing and drawing as Laura was describing the elements of her research.

As part of that meeting I was also drawing and describing to Laura some concepts of fashion design.

Notes of our brainstorming session to create the name of our team. We finally picked the name cytocouture since the work Laura was doing with endothelial cells was almost like draping and constructing garments at the micro level. Dress making with cells… cytocouture.

Early fashion sketches exploring the idea of transformable/reversible clothing.

Early fashion sketches exploring the idea of transformable clothing.

Early fashion sketches exploring the idea of transformable clothing.

Early fashion sketches exploring the idea of transformable clothing.

Our first mental map showing how we wanted the two worlds of Science and Design to articulate for this project.

Our starting point was Dr. Indolfi’s research on how endothelial cells behave differently according to the structure they grow in and cling to. We wanted to go beyond a literal interpretation of images or concepts of this scientific research so we created not a garment but a clothing system that is a metaphor of that idea. Depending on how clothes adapt to different body size and types, different structures, they can also affect dramatically the behavior of the person wearing them. That is why one of the first design principles we embraced was that the clothes should be genderless to stimulate different behaviors based in the way people wore the pieces, like skirts and tunics being used by men. Because of the shapes of the clothes you walk different, you also move, or sit, in a different way.

We also wanted Cytocouture to be sustainable so we made the pieces Zero Waste, a design challenge that makes the process even more experimental because you have to design and test different models and go back and forth many times between the drawing table and the dress form. The pieces are composed by rectangles and triangles that were cut based in the standard width of the fabric, including the raw edges or selvage.

All pieces are double sided and reversible, one side has a bright color and the other is black, they can also be wore in several different ways and combinations, and are kept together by metal snap buttons. The colors were chosen inspired in the electronic microscope images used in Dr. Indolfi’s research. The fabrics are black sateen and bright colored taffeta with a diamond pintuck pattern.

This diagram explains how the pieces of the cytocouture system are shaped and the multiple use options they have.

SLEEVES OR TUNIC: It’s composed by a long rectangle with and hexagonal opening for the head.
It folds in the middle across the long side when used as a tunic, or along the long side when used as sleeves.

TRIANGULAR SKIRT OR CAPE: It’s made by a rectangle folded in the diagonal.
The resulting shape is composed of two right triangles that don’t overlap completely.
It wraps around the waist or over the shoulders.

All the components of our design are Zero Waste, meaning no fabric is thrown away during the pattern making and construction stages. The pieces were cut based on the width of the fabric including the raw edges or selvage. This board also shows different use options for the long tunic and the small triangular shirt-cape or skirt. SMALL TRIANGULAR SHIRT-CAPE OR SKIRT: It’s composed by a symmetric right triangle with no foldings. When used as a shirt-cape it falls over the shoulders and wrap around the arms but the tips close in the back and are covered by the back flap.

It can be used also as an asymmetrical skirt.

This is our final mental map that includes the definition of cytocouture and samples of the final design.

Emma is wearing an orange long tunic with the color side out. Evan is wearing the same long tunic, but with the black side out, underneath a blue triangular shirt-cape.

It was truly important during the design and experimentation process to come up with the solution for the neckline in the tunic/sleeves. We opted for an hexagonal shape that worked well when is rotated 90º between the two functions of the piece.

This board shows the process that our project went through from the initial inspiration and conceptualization stages to the experiments in small scale, and life size models than finally became cytocouture.


Cytocouture it’s an unisex fashion concept. It transforms according to specific needs and generate genderless garments that adapt to different body shapes. Cytocouture it’s a multi-piece transformable clothing system able to generate different looks with a limited set of elements.

This concept it’s based on Dr. Laura Indolfi’s endothelial cells research. When these cells are growing they adapt and follow the shapes of the scaffold like structure that they are resting on and according to that shape they have specific behaviors and release different factors. The goal of this research is to repair damaged blood vessels by providing customized therapy.

Why unisex? The majority of the clothes in the market are created to be gender specific and design options for each sex are stereotypical and limiting. We wanted to design garments that go beyond the gender classification and offer open wide possibilities for the wearer regardless their sex. This system will not only encourage creativity and experimentation but will also stimulate discussion about gender and fashion and how identity can be constructed through clothes that don’t classify or limit the version of yourself.

Cytocouture is aligned with the concept of sustainable fashion and follows the principle of zero waste design.

Fashion Design, Scientific Research