Hussein Chalayan

2019-21 CAST Visiting Artist

Hussein Chalayan, "Pasatiempo," Spring/Summer 2016.

“For the designer Hussein Chalayan, technology is an essential part of designing a collection”
— The New York Times

Hussein Chalayan, "Readings," Autumn/Winter 2007.
Fashion designer Hussein Chalayan (left) in conversation with Michelle Finamore, Penny Vinik Curator of Fashion Arts, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston at the CAST BEING MATERIAL Symposium. Photo: L. Barry Hetherington.

Transformable fashion

About the Residency

Skylar Tibbits, Assistant Professor of Architecture and Co-Director of the Self-Assembly Lab, hosts London-based designer Hussein Chalayan to create active, transformable fashion. Together, Chalayan and Tibbits are developing innovative pieces that unite Tibbits’s self-assembling, programmable materials with Chalayan’s inventive designs.

Presented by the MIT Center for Art, Science & Technology (CAST) and the MIT Self-Assembly Lab.

This artist residency is supported by the Ida Ely Rubin Artists in Residence Fund. 


Past Events

4.154 (4.S01) Architecture Design Option Studio: Interactive Intelligent Skin
Offered Fall 2021
Taught by Skylar Tibbits and Hussein Chalayan

Bringing together the worlds of fashion, design, and technology, the studio was offered in Fall 2021 as part of a large multi-year collaboration between MIT, Hussein Chalayan, and Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft (HTW) – Modedesign, Berlin (University of Applied Sciences, Fashion Design). A conceptual and experimental vehicle, the course prompted students to imagine, design, and create projects materializing their unique perspective on ‘interactive intelligent skin.’ 

For decades, fashion designer Hussein Chalayan has been pioneering the use of interactive, kinetic, and transformable fashion in his studio and on runways around the world. More recently, Chalayan has begun exploring the notion of an interactive and sensory digital skin as a fabric and/or material surface which can detect and respond to environmental, physical, and physiological stimuli.

Simultaneously, MIT’s Self-Assembly Lab and various other researches around the world have recently made a number of advances in materials and fabrication that enable a field of highly active and programmable materials that can sense and actuate based on embedded logic. This begs the question—can we now create truly intelligent materials that go beyond a sense/response behavior towards seamless human interaction, embodied intelligence, and even form their own materially creative expression?

Campus Visit
December 3-5, 2018

2017 CAST Symposium
Wearable Panel Discussion
Friday, April 21, 2017 / 4:00-6:00pm
MIT Samberg Conference Center, Building E52
50 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02139

Collaborators at MIT

Skylar Tibbits, Assistant Professor of Design Research and Co-Director and Founder, Self-Assembly Lab, Department of Architecture, MIT

Bjorn Sparrman, Research Lead, Self-Assembly Lab, Department of Architecture, MIT


Hussein Chalayan’s work is characterized by an adventurous, bold incorporation of technology and an ability to address conceptual issues—such as disembodiment, metamorphosis, mobility and forced migration—through fashion. His experimental practice has turned the runway show into a sophisticated, multimedia form of performance art.  

Chalayan was born in Nicosia, Cyprus and educated both in Cyprus and England, graduating from Central St. Martins with a BA (Honours) degree in Fashion. His final year collection was featured in the eponymous window of Brown’s in London. In 1993, Chalayan formed his own fashion house, showcasing his twice-yearly collections in highly curated shows that explore politically, socially and technologically challenging subjects. Chalayan founded his own label in 1994 that brought with it worldwide stockists, awards such as British Designer of the Year (1999–2000), an MBE (2006) and critically acclaimed solo exhibitions at The Design Museum in London, Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Istanbul Modern and Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Aside from four womenswear and two menswear collections a year, Hussein Chalayan was a design consultant to Parisian Heritage Brand Vionnet for two years, and is head of the fashion department at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna. In 2015, Chalayan was a speaker at TED2015: Truth and Dare, opened his flagship store in London’s Mayfair, and designed and co-directed the dance piece Gravity Fatigue at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Chalayan was a panelist at the MIT CAST “Being Material” Symposium in spring 2017.

More at the artist’s website: Hussein Chalayan

In the Media

“For the designer Hussein Chalayan, technology is an essential part of designing a collection”

— The New York Times, March 2016

“Chalayan has explored movement and transformation since the start of his career, mixing performance with technology, and staging intricate presentations that often included special effects and on-stage metamorphoses.” 

WallPaper Magazine, September 2016