The relationship between architecture and fashion continues to evolve surprisingly through serving the same function of sheltering and protecting the human body against nature. The human scale and their thermal comfort are considered the center of both disciplines, where fashion deals with the direct body as clothes, while architecture deals with the body inside the space (Ertas and Samlioglu 2015). Both fields are dealing with space, mass, and structure using geometry, which consequently shows the visible relationship of their design process (Hedayat 2012) in turning the two-dimensional surface into a three-dimensional form. In fashion design, the conventional process uses pattern-cutting to flat fabric cut, assemble, and sew generating the 3D garments (Valle-noronha et al. 2020). Although this process produces waste, yet, the folding technique can consider one of the most excellent educational experiences to reach zero-waste reduction (Rissanen and McQuillan 2016; McQuillan 2020) for both fields. This hands-on technique can be reached without using advanced tools (Jackson 2011), which is based on undergoing multiple trials and errors to achieve a self-supporting model.

Both fields are shaped and influenced by cultural, social, economical, and historical factors. One of the gaps that this research tackles is integrating architecture in fashion education as a learning tool from a structural and algorithmic point of view, not as a visualization form. New changes in fashion design should be seen in the teaching and the learning process through the knowledge of multidisciplinary approach integration (Erminia 2019). With the limited integration of merging other disciplines in fashion education, the role of educators should fall into the realm to prepare and equip young designers with the necessary knowledge and skills to be aware of the new challenges that might face traditional education methods (Faerm 2015; Murzyn-Kupisz and Hołuj 2021). This study focuses on non-traditional educational methods in fashion design which will be based on ‘learning by doing’ that is applied in architectural curricula and commonly discussed in the scholarly literature (Özkar 2007; Doyle and Senske 2017; Nicholas and Oak 2020). The learning-by-doing method gives the experience of model prototyping that uses educational prototypes at early design stages. Following the educational strategy done by Lee (Lee et al. 2018), ensures that participants will not rely on the visualization tool during the design process in both disciplines. This allows dealing with problem-solving through sensing the materials’ behavior during creating a space, unlike the garments industry which is designed based on visual appearance.

The paper aims at reaching a teaching design process to assist fashion designers in generating garments using architectural principles. As a way of exploring innovative ways of testing geometry with several folding processes in fashion, the paper presents an approach that merges architecture and fashion design. This paper explores how the traditional fashion design process can integrate with an architectural design approach. It discusses the design process and the clashes between both fields through a new educational model based on the practice of collaborative and innovative experimental workshop that develops a parametric design approach based on architectural design principles. The workshop combines the skills of both architects and fashion designers to design full-scale garments to transfer some practice of producing, making, and fabricating to fashion designers. The workshop aims at challenging the current technology-driven paradigm of architectural design that relies heavily on 3D modeling by passing the need for digital software. Instead of the traditional 2D drawings that the fashion design starts within the design process, in this workshop, they will start directly with the fabrication of a 3D unit out of paper based on architectural principles. The workflow of the workshop is aiming to make sure that all participants have equality in the resources they are using to follow the same method of fabrication to assess the same criteria of the final output, especially by giving them more hands-on experience in dealing with the folding techniques through a trial-and-error process. The paper concludes the gap between materials and their shaping processes using paper as a 3D form.

Literature Review

Architecture and Fashion Design Intersections in the Digital Age

Clothes and buildings are considered the protective envelope, analogous to skins, for our bodies against the external environment (Crewe 2010). Correspondingly, the design responded more to human needs (Paksoy and Yalçın 2005) and appeared in form, aesthetic, and structure represented in columns and walls in buildings, and necklines, sleeves, and trimming in fashion (Kim and Cho 2000). Similar factors affect the appearance and production process of both clothes and buildings as climate, culture, material, and technology (Hedayat 2012), where common vocabularies began to appear reflecting the changes in environment and society (Miles 2008). In our context, this relation can obviously be seen in old Islamic Egypt, where the Mashrabiya—a window element—made of shuttered lattice wood was created for the cultural and social aspects. This element has a privacy feature that allows the insider to clearly observe the street while preventing the outsider to see through. Similarly, for the same purpose, women in that era used to cover their faces with a piece of fabric called ‘Burqa’ which has the same essential design and function as Mashrabiya as stated by the architect Abd Rabboh (Yasser 2015).

Although the fashion industry is more about aesthetic expression (Hallnäs 2009), zero-waste concepts started to appear due to the markets’ need for economical problem-solving. This concept became a practice in relation to climate crisis solutions (McQuillan 2020) through waste reduction, which in parallel changes the sequences of traditional fashion production. The appearance of this concept exists in both fashion and architecture fields that can be seen in resource reduction, unlike conventional techniques (McQuillan 2020). As a result of waste reduction, there has been a rapid rise in the use of new digital fabrication tools which assisted both designers to optimize their designs before the fabrication and production process for precise rapid prototypes. Increasingly, the aid of new digital tools introduced new shapes and echoes in both disciplines which provided innovations in texture, form, and volume in non-conventional ways. However, the digital tool should be taken as an addition to and not a replacement of analogue tools.

In the past years, the computational age had witnessed a fascinating intersection in architecture and fashion design in the design concepts, design process, vocabularies, languages, theories, geometry, materials, and digital tools (Zunde and Bougdah 2006; Hedayat 2012; Quinn 2003; Valle-noronha et al. 2020). Coco Chanel, a fashion designer, believed in the similarities of both fields when she stated, ‘Fashion is architecture: It is a matter of proportion.’ Since then, buildings became more fluid and soft as clothes, while clothes became more rigid and kinetic as buildings (Karimi and Bavar 2018). This can be seen in Rebal Jber's work, a Syrian architect who challenged hard materials like wood and marble to seem soft and liquid as a neural network and fabric in his wall panel collections titled ‘Traces of nature’ which was presented at Beit Beirut exhibition in 2018 (Rebal 2018). His inspiration was based on using organic forms that match forms from nature.

The evolutionary growth of new technologies and materials shifted the fashion industry from couture and mass production to a multifaceted process. Although it is difficult to predict the deformable flexible fabrics in clothes (Tanaka et al. 2007), each material property can be controlled (Bugg and Ziesche 2013; Brändle 2004). The fabric application in architecture has been integrated since the use of tents, animal skins, and bones in construction. It has expanded with the discovery of smart and hybrid responsive materials that open the doors for body adaptation. Fabrics as a formwork give stability to free-form structures found in the work of Mark West, Miguel Fisac, Sergio Prego, Massimo Moretti, Richard Bush, among others. In modern textile-based constructions, fabrics gradually started to appear again not only as an aesthetic element but as a part of the manufacturing and structural element that gives the flexibility of non-conventional forms (Kuusisto 2009). The traditional workflow of the fashion industry follows several processes as stated by McQuillan starting with design, which includes ideation, concept, and sketching, followed by making, which includes testing different iterations and patterns, and ending with a production sample, factory sample, and the final production piece (McQuillan 2020). Although sketching is considered a main essential technique during pattern-cutting and maker-making of garments (McQuillan 2020), the repetition of the trial and error process to generate the desired designs consumes a lot of resources. Thus, the revolution in the digital age shifted the design process to integrate more digital software which became a tool of prototyping to assist in zero-waste practice for reducing the waste of resources. Correspondingly, digital tools go back and forth in the design process which allows more visualization moving between the 3D sketch, 2D pattern, and 3D sample (McQuillan 2020). Certainly, digital tools play an important role in reaching better results, yet, the workshop in this paper aimed to minimize the use of digital tools during the design process depending on a traditional tool for experimenting with folded units. Material and structural stability tests for folding techniques are hard to test digitally without experience in analysis software. Accordingly, this workshop focused on testing the units on the manikin dealing directly with the body to understand different dimensions and scales which can save time unlike if they were just designed digitally. This highlights the valuation of the hand-made exploration and the making process of craftsmanship more than depending on digital tools.

Folding as a Design Process in Architecture and Fashion Design

In educational hands-on experiences, the folding technique is one of the easiest tools to generate 3D volumes without using advanced tools (Jackson 2011). Peter Jackson argued in his book titled ‘Folding techniques for designers from sheet to form’ that the importance of the folding technique highlighted that it is rarely an inspiration for designers. He presented several techniques for modeling complex shapes by hand (Jackson 2011). He concluded with some techniques for transforming two-dimensional paper sheets into three-dimensional forms based on simple folding rules such as creasing, pleating, bending, collapsing, curving, and wrapping (Biagini and Donato 2013). Taking the advantage of this technique, both fields are sharing the same production process of transforming the 2D surfaces into 3D volume space hosting the body as the main element (Miles 2008). Folding in architecture is used as a structural and visual interest to manipulate the volumetric forms of the building, while in fashion, it gives both structure and stability to the garments. The different materials' behaviors in the garment industry allow main extensive techniques to appear as knitting and weaving, yet, they had a slow development in the textiles industry (Popescu et al. 2016).

Following mathematical and algorithmic rules extracted from nature, this technique can afford multiple patterns which introduces the concept of biomimicry that allows mimicking nature and responding to the external environment (Pearson 2001). Hence, a wide range of contemporary examples inspired architects and fashion designers to shift their work towards mimicking nature for a higher level of responsiveness to environmental conditions (Bugg 2011).

Technological Applications in the Works of Architects and Fashion Designers

The increasing technology integration in textiles as sensors have embedded electric functionality and generated new types of smart textiles (Li et al. 2019). These textiles are used in fashion and architecture and can be programmed through controlled properties pixel by pixel responding to environmental changes. Fabrication tools such as 3D printing, laser cutting, and Computerized Numerical Control milling (CNC), all based on the computerized manufacturing process and software, allow for controlling the parameters shifting people from product-oriented industries to the service-minded economy (Kuusk et al. 2012). The emergence of integrating sensors and motors inside materials resulted in wearable technology, which its origin in the military, healthcare, and space travel (Smelik 2017), yet, it has not been integrated widely into our daily fashion. Paulina,—a Dutch designer who is specialized in wearable technology—argued that the design is not about the technology per se, but a reaction of the moving body in space (Dongen 2020). This argument clarifies the similarities found in architecture and fashion where both are trying to respond to human bodies taking the surroundings as the main driver. Thus, the fashion industry started to focus on materials that can absorb the energy exuded from the body permeated through fabrics. This shifted the clothing to become living organisms that can sense and track, temperature, touch, sound, humidity, pressure, light, etc. (Kuusk et al. 2012). Therefore, many examples show how technology and textiles can combine to create architectural spaces or clothes respond to the environment. Several architects nowadays started to revive the fabric's power as a low-cost technique (Popescu et al. 2018).

Below are selections of some architects and fashion designers who integrated fabrics using different design methods and fabrication processes in their designs innovatively such as Block, Ahlquist, Chalayan, Gao and Bugg, Waibel and Jeon, and Herpen.

The KnitCandela is a concrete shell pavilion that integrated fabrics in architectural applications, designed by the Block Research Group at ETH Zurich with the collaboration of Zaha Hadid Architects. This pavilion integrated both architecture and fashion computationally, where the structure was inspired by the Spanish Mexican shells of Felix Candela, while the materials were stimulated by Jalisco's traditional dress in Mexico. The pavilion merged both a flexible cable-net from the outside and knitted-fabric work from the inside as a base to get the needed curvature from its flexibility (Popescu et al. 2020). This method was used to generate the double-curved surface based on knitted materials that can be tailored to three-dimensional forms without the need for gluing, welding, or cutting. The Mobius Rib-Knit is another project done by Sean Ahlquist which is based on material behavior that responded to imposed tensile forces of textile hybrid materials. The features of these materials were found among the high strength with low bending stiffness generating tensile and membrane surfaces. Ahlquist used software to generate a computational model that utilized a simulation for woven and weft-knitted textiles (Ahlquist 2015).

Moving to fashion designers using interactive garments, Hussein Chalayan, has pushed the boundaries of his collection towards turning them from static to responsive as architecture, besides responding to both external environment and internal body factors. He has integrated LED technology into some of his collections using climate as a metaphor to reflect feelings toward the weather. Thus, his strategy goes beyond the making of dresses to look like architecture to understand the environmental and functional factors (Quinn 2002). Jessica Bugg and Ying Gao focus on creating interactive breathing garments that can respond according to human movement. Bugg oriented her research and practice in developing methods for embodied clothing design and communication with the interdisciplinary practice of fashion, fine art, and performance. Her clothes fall into the realm of the body's performance, movement, and dancing body through sensory and embodied experience (Bugg 2014). The structure of Gao's collections are inspired by the social and urban environment transformations. For instance, one of her garments changes its form by twisting and curling when people come closer, while colors change when staring at them (Gao 2020). Yet, both designers are dealing with very high-tech material sensors which require some skills in mechanical engineering.

Jule Waibel and Eunjeong Jeon based their collections on the folding process. Waibel, a German designer, created around 25 dresses based on folded papers for Bershka's brand, produced by manual hand-pleating of large two-dimensional paper sheets into three-dimensional volumetric forms that fit the body (Howarth 2014). Although her non-architecture background resulted in creating more trial and error processes which is time-consuming due to some structural failure, yet her process of folding a full-scale garment was well-grounded. While Jeon, a Korean designer, used a module-based felted unit segmented by craft skills using folding and sewing techniques. She integrated, in one of her most famous collections ‘Trans-For-M-Otion,’ human feelings such as fear, happiness, and emotional response. When the wearer feels insecure ‘due to environmental changes in heartbeat, body temperature, respiration, or muscle tension, correspondingly, small air cells’ in the fabric fill up causing the garment to fit closer to the body providing protection (Hrga 2019) with the volumetric transformation (Jeon 2009) (Jeon 2013). The uniqueness of the structure can be seen in the simple repetitive 3D polygon-shaped unit that added a volume without any extra weight.

More recent evidence for a Dutch fashion designer Iris Van Herpen who continuously pushed the boundaries of fashion by integrating the 3D printing method in her collections (Scaturro and Tonkin 2017). Her designs are more oriented to organic futurism related to science and technology that disrupts conventional manufacturing. Herpen considered using nature as a guiding principle in her work resulting in unfamiliar forms which then are translated into adaptive clothes (Herpen 2019). In her project 'Sensory Seas,' she started to mimic some marine organisms to generate a 3D twisted vortex model with the assistance of Rhino and Grasshopper software using 3D printing and laser cutting to slice the different layers of fabrics (Herpen 2019). Each layer was then embellished by hand after form folding. Her special designs were found not while using traditional materials, but hard ones such as plastic, polyester, hi-the fabric, and metal (Smelik 2017). Although her designs were oriented more toward technology to overcome the limitation of the traditional technique, she used a hybrid system where craftsmanship remains important in the production of her garments given the final manual touch (Smelik 2017). She claims that there is still a gap between computer processes and traditional craftsmanship, yet she succeeded in proving her findings by trying to bind them. Thus far, she relies too heavily on technology as a driver more than an educational tool.

In the light of the dramatic technological transformation of design profession practices, Salama and Soliman argued that digital fabrication is reacting in a slow manner in Egyptian Universities. Thus, it is not yet widely reflected in the architectural curriculum especially the undergraduates (Salama and Crosbie 2010; Soliman et al. 2019). Accordingly, the concept of 'learning by doing' can start to shed light on the trial-and-error processes that are considered excellent educational experiences to sense the material behavior and the structure of the model.

Although the previous works showed the integration of advanced technology during the making process, however, understanding the basic process of computational design and the rules behind it before using any digital tools is the driver of this paper. The results of the workshop followed in this paper tried to answer questions that revolve around the validity of architecture in fashion design education, and how to investigate an experimental alternative that can enhance fashion design education rather than the traditional methods. The resulting garments are not competing with the market but presenting a new educational additive process inspired by architecture for fashion designers that weighs heavily on their process-based visualization tool and pattern cut.

Methods and Materials

To reach a design process for assisting fashion designers in generating garments using architectural principles, the paper analysed the results of a collaborative practice-based workshop titled ‘Fashion Clash’ that took place at a design studio in Cairo. The workshop lasted for two months and its scope falls into the realm of testing structural models to generate self-supporting garments manual fabrication without any software. The novelty of the workshop aimed to take a new look at exploring innovative ways of transforming the two-dimensional unit into a 3D self-supported model that starts with paper-based and ends with fabric. The participants were selected based on practice interviews through drawing a conceptual sketch for a futuristic garment by an architect and a fashion designer after which ten participants were selected from both disciplines. The age of the participants varied from 18 to 25 including both undergraduates and professionals. Mixed groups were formed that contained one architect and one fashion designer.

An evaluation of the design garments output was done with the participants through an in-depth interview by expert jurors from both fields. The assessment criteria were based on five main aspects with a total of eleven points; (1) the implementation of (inspiration, creativity, and structural model), (2) the unit (geometry, scalability, and expandability/repetition), (3) connectivity/joints, (4) garment (stability, wearability, and aesthetic), and (5) quality of fabrication. The assessment criteria were evaluated based on a rating scale of a score from 1 to 5 where 1 is the lowest and 5 is the highest. The resulting garments shared in a fashion show where real models wore them. The method followed is divided into three phases that are discussed briefly in this section.


This section shows the three phases that were carried out during the workshop (Fig. 1), (1) modeling and form-finding, (2) the assembly of self-supported form, and (3) fabrication by textile. The chart shows the difference between the traditional fashion design workflow and the new integrations that emerged from the workshop.

Fig. 1
figure 1

The traditional fashion design and the workshop workflow

The first phase focused on the theoretical background of the process of extracting rules and patterns from nature based on a parametric design approach to invite participants to extract their own rules. A projection was then displayed on a manikin to visualize the effect of complex patterns on different curved surfaces in the body (EL-Sayed 2012) to translate them into a full-scale garment. This phase assisted the fashion designers to explore folding techniques by hand with the help of architects. For selecting the suitable technique, some traditional methods used in fashion were revisited that Valle named a (Valle-noronha et al. 2020) (1) pattern-cut, which is difficult for visualizing the garment; (2) draping, which needs a body as a support for the design; and (3) tailoring, which is based on drawing patterns directly on the fabric. Those three methods were not adaptable to generate a structure model test. Accordingly, origami—the art of folding paper—as a folding method was tested manually giving new skills and different exposure to fashion designers. Using paper, the 2D flat surfaces turned into 3D modular unit/repetitive pattern. The challenge was to reach a scalable and flexible modular unit for extendability to be assemblied by studying the connections and joints for a self-supported model. Another challenge was to design joints from the same materials with less use of any external pins.

The second phase focused on turning the structured model into a self-supporting garment manually. To ensure the garment stability, the units/shapes were distributed and assembled to cover the needed part of the body using a manikin. In this stage, the self-supporting model assessed the designers to reach a self-stable form based on the topography of the body.

The third phase focused on transforming the structural paper garments into a real wearable textile after testing different fabrics' behaviors followed by jurors' evaluation. The resulting prototypes shared in a fashion exhibition highlighted the interdisciplinary approach where architects and fashion designers cooperated showing a strong relationship through full-scale fabricated garments with both paper-based and textile garments.


The main material used was paper due to its flexibility and capacity to reach self-supporting stable volumetric garments based on folding methods, unlike the traditional processes that use paper sketching and pattern-cutting on fabric directly which were resources-consuming. Although fibers show consistent behavior in both paper and textile, their properties are different. For instance in fabric, both knitting and weaving are responsible for obtaining higher strength and stability to produce textiles, yet they are different. The woven structure is based on interlacing two yarns that cross each other making it rigid (Kuusisto 2009), unlike knitting where the yarns are stitched/interlocked in multiple loops that give higher flexibility and elasticity to be more stretchy. During folding, (Fig. 2b) the tied and weaved fibers caused gaps which gave the flexibility and softness required for bending without sharp edges unless strength was provided through layering, ironing, heating, sewing, or tailoring. In the case of paper (Fig. 2a), the fibers were compacted and glued together without any spaces which gives strength and rigidity allowing sharp bending and causing a self-stable structure.

Fig. 2
figure 2

The fibres under the microscope × 50 and × 100 magnification; a compacted fibres in paper with no voids; b the voids in the textile


Modeling and Form-Finding

Interestingly, during this phase, the projected geometries on the manikin (Fig. 3) illustrated the deformation of the units across different curvatures of the body. The form-finding phase resulted in a various number of shapes that were geometrically adapted based on the body and translated by folding paper. This versatility sparked the curiosity to understand the folding processes' possibility to achieve self-supporting dresses based on repetitive units assembled on a modular grid. The contribution of the architects in each team was more substantial in this phase because of their experience in generating self-standing units, unlike fashion designers. Folded units were generated based on folding 2D surfaces with some cuts to create 3D volumes (Fig. 4) that were assembled to generate self-supporting models. Interestingly, the trial-and-error processes of the hands-on experience with physical models gave a different understanding of the structure for the fashion designers turning the 2D flat paper into a 3D unit, unlike their traditional methods.

Fig. 3
figure 3

The deformation of different patterns projected on the manikin. Image: AbdRabboh-s Design House 2014

Fig. 4
figure 4

The fabrication process and the folding transformation of the units

The Assembly of Self-Supporting Form

In this phase, the contribution of the fashion designers was higher transferring the self-supporting models to be assembled forming 3D garments on a manikin. The toile phase was essential where the units were assembled on the whole body. Different trial and error processes experimented with different folding and assembly techniques to match the manikin. Two approaches were used to reach tessellated units, (1) repetitive shapes with different connections and scales fitting perfectly together with no gaps in between (Fig. 5a); (2) one continuous paper sheet without any joints based on origami technique (Fig. 5b). Some problems regarding wearing garments occurred when fitting them on real models. Figure 5c shows the results of the paper-based prototypes on a real model displayed at the fashion show.

Fig. 5
figure 5

a The self-supporting model and the garments using the same units and method; b the origami process made from one continuous sheet; c the final results of the paper-based garments, image: AbdRabboh-s Design House 2015

The Evaluation Process of the Paper Garments

With six expert jurors, three in each field, the paper garments were assessed based on the criteria mentioned in the method. The evaluation process was based on a score from 1 to 5, where each juror recorded his/her number. Figure 6 shows the evaluation of the even garments where it is noticed that the higher score were dresses no. 4, 5, and 6. These dresses succeeded because their structural model in the design phase was stable enough to become a self-supporting garment, the ability to be expandable in a repetitive way, and the strength in the connectivity, especially in dresses no. 5 and 6 where the origami continuous sheet assessed in this strength. In addition, they reached a good unit transition that is strong enough to hold the weight of the other materials through the way of the joints they created. Regardless of the fabrication quality, dresses 1, 5, 6, and 7 seemed to be of the best quality because of the minimum voids between the units. Dresses 1, 2, and 7 got a higher score in the expandability and the quality of fabrication, yet, their scalability and connections were too low compared to the other dresses.

Fig. 6
figure 6

The evaluation process of the jurors for the seven garments based on the listed criteria

This can be noticed because the units were joined together either with glue or by pins, unlike the other dresses where the units either interlocked or acted as contentious folded sheets. Some struggles were noticed in the structural model part from the fashion designer’s point of view because it was different than the traditional methods that rely on 2D drawing. However, they mentioned that this way of thinking based on 3D allowed them to be more creative to think about the process, not only the final form. It was more appealing to have a direct relation of visually mimicking forms in 3D by physically sensing the paper's fragility, lightness, and stability in different conditions without the need for any software.

Fabrication of Textile Garments

In this phase, the fashion designers turned the self-supporting paper dresses into real fabric, copper, and plastic dresses where they started to deal with textiles as a 3D form (Fig. 7a). The conflict between the architects and the fashion designers started to appear in this stage where the designers struggled with transforming the same units into fabric. This stage needed multiple corrections to develop the main design unit. The challenge was to fold the textile and get the same results as the paper's sharp edges. Although fashion designers used to deal with paper pattern-cutting, dealing with 3D units made of paper was a new experience. The different material behavior during the transformation of the 3D unit into fabric resulted in inaccurate translations of the folded sharp lines in some garments (Fig. 7b). Slight changes occurred in the final form because of the textile behaviors, where new gaps were found during the folding process. As stated previously, the fibers gaps in the textile caused smoother surfaces forcing adding more layers of fabric upon each unit besides using ironing to give it the rigidity of paper. This phase ended with a fashion show that presented the garments and provided the experience to fashion designers on basic architectural and structural principles that assisted them in reaching the results.

Fig. 7
figure 7

a The transforming process from paper-unit into a fabric; b The transformation of the self-supported model into garments; c the paper garments on real models, image: AbdRabboh-s Design House 2015


This section elaborates on the challenges faced during the integration of the two disciplines during the workshop. The durability and the self-supported garments were achieved by using paper-based structures, unlike the conventional process of starting with fabrics. Experimental models using paper at the early stage were essential and offered the possibility to create 3D geometries out of 2D flat surfaces that can reduce fabric waste and reach non-conventional forms. This process helped fashion designers to think differently with 3D structural models instead of 2D drawings. It was noticed that the modular unit made of paper helped reach flexibility with different scales and openings from the same modular unit reaching the extendability of the garments. The initial ideas resulting from the ‘paper-folding’ exercise generated different alternatives depending on the connections. Hence, the novelty of the resulting garments can be seen in the transition of the unit from paper to textile, which accelerated the fabrication process, unlike starting with fabric which slowed the production process. The fabric garments were affected by the materials' behaviour and the folding techniques (Fig. 8), where both depended on each other based on the fibres’ compaction that allowed generating sharp or soft edges. Therefore, the matter knowledge of materials is an essential requirement for predicting the feasibility of the result and also in raising many constraints in the fabrication and assembly process. Thus, several fabrication processes were used in the textile such as; creasing, pleating, bending, knotting, hinging, corrugating, twisting, crumpling, curving, and wrapping. Such processes enabled the designers to achieve similar self-supporting garments which highlighted the cross-disciplinary method in the two fields.

Fig. 8
figure 8

Left: Two dresses made out of paper; Right: dresses out of fabric. Images:AbdRabboh-s Design House 2015

Each group had a limited budget for the fabric garment to think economically about material reduction. Another challenge was to reach the same desired results by fashion designers when turning the rigid paper units into textiles, especially in the origami process based on one sheet. This challenge can be solved in further applications through 3D printing on the fabric using other rigid materials that strengthen the edges.

Some clashes occurred between the participants in both disciplines for the difference in the design process and workflow that were based on 3D units, unlike the traditional 2D pattern-cutting process. However, the manual fabrication of the structural models enhanced the participants' quality of engagement and skills in architecture with architects' assistance. This allowed the designers to generate non-conventional dresses based on a self-supporting structure. The integration of the roles of both architects and fashion designers, during the different phases, showed the innovative solutions of integrating their strategies resulting in garments with both paper and textiles.

The results of the garments were not accurate enough, nevertheless, digital fabrication tools would enhance the results and reduce waste materials. The assistance of software can easily create folded patterns which can be implemented from the beginning in an upcoming workshop to ensure that the time frame and all participants from different disciplines have the same level of ability to use a specific software.


The paper discussed the implementation of parametric design logic as the main driver without using digital software to build full-scale garments which gave participants the knowledge to analyze mathematical rules manually. The focus of the workshop depended on proposing a computational thinking process for fashion designers on how to translate a self-supporting model into a real self-supporting garment based on folding techniques.

The research presented an innovative manual workflow that fostered new methods for designers and followed empirical experimentation highlighting the intersection between architects and fashion designers. The paper showed the potential for exploring innovative ways of testing geometries which highlighted the potential of developing a way of creating clothing based on folding techniques. The manual process allowed fashion designers to deal with fabrics differently, turning the architectural self-supporting prototype from 2D into 3D structured garment papers followed by 3D textiles. In a wider sense, a new model of computational thinking has been discussed, and while not completely new for architects, fashion designers learned to use nature as a source of inspiration.

So far, the investigation of this paper had only been on customized dresses, yet, mass customization needs wider treatment. In the future, this workflow can be applied digitally to compute the forces, strengths, weaknesses, and structure, besides testing the assembly before fabrication. Thus, our results encouraged the validation of digital sample sizes comparing the waste reduction of both techniques. Further work needs to integrate a hybrid design practice process to study the surfaces which can increase space for creativity while reducing structure and material usage. Finally, integrating digital technologies in fashion based on science, technology, and craftsmanship will offer new opportunities to generate smart textiles and wearable technologies that are mainly driven by material sciences and advanced technology. This can transform embodied experience according to the external environment to enable new relationships between people and clothing. Yet, some social interactions and cultural practices need to be taken into consideration to add value to clothing. This will fill the gap between the computer process and traditional manual craftsmanship which opens the door toward new developing techniques that mimic traditional crafts.