Parsons Open Style Lab


Universal Materiality is a collective group of work reflecting the research collaboration between the Institute of Textiles & Clothing (ITC), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HKSAR (HKPolyU) and the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design. In collaboration with Open Style Lab (OSL), a nonprofit dedicated to making style accessible for people with disabilities, this exhibition features seven accessible designs with smart material explorations that involved the collaborative work between multi-disciplinary practitioners (inclusive of fashion designers, engineers, and occupational /physical therapists) and long-term residents from The Riverside Premier Rehabilitation and Healing Center.

This exhibition encourages you to consider the ways disability is interpreted in bodies, abilities, and through the act of dressing. Clothing plays an important role in promoting and protecting the rights of older people with disabilities and facilitating their full participation in society. The current availability of clothing meeting their needs is not reflective of the positive relationship between style orientation and personal wellbeing. This body of work seeks to strengthen the relationship between the design process and end users, while applying materials that contribute to style preference and functional requirements in clothing.

The work reveals two parts of the co-design process: (1) Material studies between both research groups in Hong Kong to examine the potential for smart textiles and digital processes like 3D printing to address specific needs of users; (2) Applying the findings into practice with people with disabilities or older people throughout the 2018 Open Style Lab summer program at Parsons School of Design. The garments, textiles, and material studies inside this gallery integrated considerate uses of technology and style for the residents at Riverside Rehab to live a more independent and expressive lifestyle.


Research Leads

Grace Jun, Assistant Professor of Fashion

Dr. Jeanne Tan, Associate Professor in Fashion & Textile Design

This exhibition is made possible with support from the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, Parsons School of Fashion (RSCP), The New School Faculty Research Fund Award (FRF) from the Provost Office, and the Institute of Textiles & Clothing (ITC), The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The research leaders wish to thank the following contributors for their insight, support, and resources:


Sheila C. Johnson Design Center Staff

Christiane Paul, Kristina Kaufman, Daisy Wong, Daniel Chou


Parsons School of Fashion, Dean

Burak Cakmak


Parsons School of Fashion, Research Scholarship and Creative Practice (RSCP) Committee

Hazel Clark, Jason Kass, Timo Rissanen, Marie Genevieve Cyr, Shelley Fox, Fiona Dieffenbacher


Institute of Textiles and Clothing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Dr. Jeanne Tan, Mr. Wong Wang Wah, Mr. Kevin Hui, Ngai Chi Hang, Yuen Chun Fai, Ziqian Bai, Amy Chen, Lan Ge, Li Shao, Wing Chung Wong, Heeyoung Kim, Xingxing Zou


Open Style Lab
Grace Jun, Christina Mallon, Pinar Guvenc, Aroom Han, Kilian Son, Johnathan Hayden, Julia Liao, Vanessa Sanchez, Wooksang Kwon, Kieran Kern, Peter Troljic, Irene Park, Amy Jung, Claudia Poh.

2018 Open Style Lab Summer Program Clients (Residents at Riverside Rehab)
Robert Appelman, Ada Stewart, Velda Alleyne, Wanda Rosario, Roxine (Roxie) Gassette, Michele Bachrach, Harriet Walerstein, Florence Harrington


2018 Open Style Lab Summer Program Fellows

Team Michele –  Camila Chiriboga, Sid Lamaute, Jessica Otolo

Team Wanda – Nicholas Paganelli, Mikael Kalin, Amélie Lavoie

Team Velda – Tiffany Hwang, Manlin Song, Lindsey Day

Team Roxie – Alyssa Wardrop. Ray LC, Michael Tranquilli

Team Robert – Bolor Amgalan, Herbert Ramirez, Alyssa Brandofino

Team Ada – Heeyoung Kim, Grace Wu, Julie Osipow

Team Florence –Amy Chen, Julia Lemle, Karen Moskowitz


The Riverside Premier Rehabilitation and Healing Center and CareRite Center
Ashley Romano, Cathy Diamond, Lindsey Hall


Exhibition Design:

Eray / Carbajo


Graphic Design:

Wooksang Kwon


Accessibility Consulting:

Peter Trojic


Parsons Research Assistant Students:
Bolor Amgalan, MFA Design & Technology ‘20
Zihao Chen, MFA Design & Technology ‘20
Katya Ekimian, BFA Fashion ‘20


Special thank you to Victoria Manganiello and Tsvetanka Uzunova