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At the intersection of fashion, technology, and culture | A Q&A with Kiara Gounder

As technology becomes an increasingly active collaborator in the realms of art and fashion, 3D printing, scanning, and more are being harnessed by artists and designers in their work. Kiara Gounder is one such designer.

Merging fashion, culture, nature, and technology, the South African fashion designer specialising in 3D prototyping for fashion artefacts has recently produced a body of work titled Mutari Corpora – an exciting artefact capsule collection that’s currently featured as part of R3Vision, an exhibition at MARS Gallery in Australia, as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival.
     Having first featured Gounder in Creative Feel for her Digital Nature range, we recently spoke with the fashion designer for a catch-up Q&A on her latest body of work, and how her experimentations with 3D modelling, scanning, and printing technologies have progressed.

  • Kiara Gounder Mutari Corpora
  • Kiara Gounder Mutari Corpora
  • Kiara Gounder Mutari Corpora

Creative Feel: When we first featured you in Creative Feel, you were experimenting with 3D printing through your Digital Nature range. What’s changed since then, both with your practice and in terms of the confluence of fashion and technology?
Kiara Gounder: Digital Nature was my introduction to 3D printing technology.  I have since been interested in further experimenting with a wider range of digital technologies to develop my creative practice. I concentrated on fully immersing myself in 3D modeling, 3D scanning and 3D prototyping technologies, creating customised, interdisciplinary methodologies using digital software such as ‘Rhinoceros 3D’, ‘Blender’, and ‘Meshmixer’ to design 3D fashion artefacts around the female human figure.
     The integration of fashion and technology encourages the development of these interdisciplinary methodologies to foster greater innovation in creative practice. I aimed to demonstrate how digital technologies are used to expand the fashion design process – as well as providing insight into the landscape of digital fashion and South Africa (through the development of Mutari Corpora).

fashion designer Kiara Gounder

CF: Can you tell us a bit about your latest collection, Mutari Corpora? How did you go about selecting and working with the animal bones and horns that ultimately factored into the collection?
KG: Mutari Corpora is a fashion interpretation of animal anatomy indigenous to Southern Africa presented as adornment for the female body. The artefact capsule collection was developed by exploring the relationship between analogue and digital processes. A range of three ‘exo- skeletal’ fashion artefacts conceptualise interior and exterior animal anatomy on the female body, representing a hybridity of animal and human biology. 
     A work colleague, who is an avid animal bone collector, loaned me a few pieces from her collection. Over the years, she has amassed an impressive assortment of animal bones, horns, and other natural specimens from the trails, hiking paths, and fields of Southern Africa.  I wanted to use sources of inspiration that were unique to my environment. I selected specific horns and bones based on the intricacy of structure, silhouette, texture and form.
     The natural specimens were 3D scanned and digitally manipulated in ‘Rhinoceros 3D’ and ‘Meshmixer’. I was intrigued by the prospect of manipulating analogue textures in a digital space.

CF: Tell us about OBSIDIAN and your current participation in R3Vision.
KG: OBSIDIAN is an XR collaboration with Nirma Madhoo (Fashion Film Maker), Jason Stapleton (3D Artist and Animator), Ponz (Digital Fashion Specialist) and myself. Nirma approached me in January 2021 with an opportunity to collaborate, and the project has since evolved into a groundbreaking XR installation.

‘OBSIDIAN is a site-specific installation – a minor planet/ virtual world.  Visitors can embody OBSIDIAN by taking its avatar shape to visit the world in an Oculus VR headset in realtime. The I.N.A avatar’s fashion performances are installations that can be navigated in 3D in the exoplanet’s procedurally generated geography. The I.N.A performs in an Alexander McQueen dress, digital skin and the Mutari Corpora 3D printed fashion artefact range.’

– from the MARS Gallery webpage.

My artefacts feature in the physical installation, on AR assets and in the VR world of Obsidian. I feel extremely fortunate to have participated (in a small capacity) in such a cutting-edge project, working with artists and specialists that I admire.
     The installation is currently showing at the MARS Gallery as a part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival.

CF: Looking forward, where do your interests lie when it comes to the future of fashion, adornment, technology, and culture?
KG: I am interested in the prospect of experimenting with virtual fashion and animation – creating fashion that only exists in the digital realm. There are other aspects of 3D prototyping and AR I would love to further explore. I want to be able to create within the intersection of fashion, technology, and South African culture – to continually explore my surroundings and re-interpret them through digital interfaces. 
     Future projects will involve fashion ‘artefacting’, 3D prototyping technologies and virtual fashion applications.

Find out more about Gounder and her work on Instagram.


Mutari Corpora 
Photographer: Keith Kenneth
Digital renders: Kiara Gounder
Model: Rose Jordan – Model International
Hair and Makeup: Wadene Ngubane

OBSIDIAN is Nirma Madhoo | Jason Stapleton | Ponz | Kiara Gounder

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