Royal College of Art Graduate Toria Ya Tuo is a Chinese Mongolia Textile Designer. Her personal experiences have inspired her to research wearable textiles through embroidery, soft electronics and robotics.Her work discusses the relationship between our bodies and materials as well as emotions.  Read further to learn more about Toria’s design processes, as featured in the October issue of Harper's Bazaar under our Global Young Talent

You mention having the sensation of hugging or touch win your designs because of the COVID-19 pandemics cause for lack physical of contact; do you mind sharing more about the importance of this effect within your designs?

As an international student, I was crossed half of the world back to my home during the outbreak. Transferring from the UK to Africa, finally arriving in China, I experienced tough journey and strict quarantine. I witnessed the unexpected changes in people's behavior from Europe to Africa to Asia. I felt being encouraged and needed in that period but I saw discrimination and violence at the same time. When I let all the complicated emotions go, I found that all I needed was a warm hug, which turned into a luxury in front of social distancing. The emotions and feelings behind these inspired me a lot and helped me to explore the relationship between our psychological and physical needs. I want to present an ideal vision through my work in specific scenario. The answer hidden inside could be a theory , an activity, or a kind of sensation.

What inspired you to use the ocean and sea life in your designs?

Biomimicry is a good start to explore the changeable shape in movement. I chose sea creature ,represented by starfish , because they are good examples of shape changing. The way they adsorbed on the rock is so similar to hugging. Besides on the function ,there’s also aesthetic Value.Their bright color and shining skin together with the environment around are very inspired on my material and pattern development. That’s the reason why I used reflective effect. What’s more important, I think, is the potential in the technique research. Biomimicry strategy applied to soft robots a lot, which is very helpful to explore wearable devices in the context of Body or Future.

I was able to go to a garden to collect my dyestuff surround by soft breeze and the fragrance from flowers and trees

You use many creative techniques within your designs; which is your favorite?

I think it is to making the 3D inflatable modules. This is the technique I didn’t try before. Actually, I spent more time on it. I found guests were very curious about how my samples works on the exhibition. We couldn’t see the plastic films inside, but they are the soul of my project, which allow my samples or garment to move and to interactive with people. It’s also the challenging part for myself, because it’s more like engineering practice and based on the mathematic principles, like how to control the directions by different angles when it pumping up. It’s something that can be fresh in both design and art. I really enjoyed experiments about this and the outcomes surprised me too.

I really enjoyed experiments about this and the outcomes surprised me too


Do you mind telling us about the research used for your collection?

Sure. I did a lot of research in MIT Lab, Their works in soft robotics and inflatable prototyping are so impressive. I learnt a lot about the methodology they used in design and experiments. For the color and material parts, I inspired a lot by contemporary art.For example, how to explore color in the mixture of materials? How to create the sense of movement by lines or specific shape in a painting? How to improve the performance by using light or sound. To dig out these theories behind the art works are very helpful to the development of my works

For your design, you used water soluble embroidery which helps in avoiding waste made from cutting and stitching; was this an important factor in choosing what embroidery you use?

Yes, that’s the reason why I chose water soluble embroidery. In my opinion, traditional embroidery is more like decoration in textiles. It’s very different from weave or knit, because we can create or produce fabrics by these two techniques. Then I found I could transfer yarn into fabrics by water soluble embroidery, too. What’s more is it could be a way to connect different pieces seamless. It solved problem of finish somehow. I attracted deeply by its good looking and sustainability.

Green is also the most restful colour to the eye.

Discover Toria Ya Tuo full collection

Words by Holly Cramman