Pattern Futures for the Body

Who says that surface designers have to work in furniture, interiors, or fashion?
A series of innovative products have been getting lots of attention in the cosmetics industry. Lipsticks shaped like cats, nailpolishes that are magnetically patterned, and now lip tattoos are phenomenally successful products. As we experiment with different ways to earn a living through practicing our craft, it might help to forget the cultural boundaries that exist around applications that are mainstream, everyday, or cheap. The discovery of a new material or a technological breakthrough always opens up new avenues for designers. These trajectories don't always stay within the limits of good taste, and thank goodness - check out these interesting examples:

Magnetic Nail Polish

Magnetic Nail Varnish is making a return. After appearing briefly on the market in 2007 (Lancome's LeMagnetique, which we wrote about here last year) magnetically patterned nail varnish promptly disappeared from the scene. Something must have recently changed (patent licensed to a different product developer? improvement in the formula?) because the concept is now back in a big way.
Sephora is featuring the Magnetic Polish by Nails, inc., and their marketing has been strong enough to get this product into the mainstream.

LCN's Magnetic Nail Polish is more colorful, but the magnetic field application technique is a bit less convenient.

There is also the Alessandro Go Magic! Twist line, which is more or less the same as the LCN line.

As a side note, the technology behind this patterning technique is actually very similar to a technique that I'm patenting. It's interesting to see how the technique has found its way into the commercial world. A few years ago, at a new materials fair, the technique popped up in a collection of magnetically patterned plastics. Also, I'm always on the lookout for examples of how magnetism is perceived in the public domain. The reviews and product descriptions often allude to mysterious qualities associated with magnets.

Violent Lips

These are temporary tattoos for the lips that leave a patterned coating on your flesh. Body artists have used skin as their canvas for centuries. The Violent Lips product suggests another corner of the skin to make artwork on.
The tattoos come in different predictably tacky categories: animal skins, fishnets, word (like "feisty"), and glitter. Oh, and the clever marketing team even figured out how to turn a product flaw into a benefit, at least in the eyes of their audience: "When wearing your lips don’t eat anything too greasy since oil removes the appliqu├ęs. That’s one way to stick to your diet!"

Youtube is now inundated with how-to videos posted by Violent Lips fans from the across the blogosphere.
This is a big trend in the world of novelty makeup bloggers, who often get free product in exchange for reviews.

Handpainted nail art

This is just fascinating to watch. A blogger with a lot of artistic talent applies her drawing skills to nail decoration. She paints the patterns onto the nails by hand, and has worked out formulas for making intricate fizzy drink logos:

And classic textile patterns like houndstooth:

Again, this makes me think about all the artisans who create elaborate objects outside of the high-brow category of luxury goods. It's a different culture. They don't have sophisticated ambitions in the worlds of design or fine art. Yet, when it comes down to it, we're all doing the same craft.

1 comment:

  1. This is a really cool idea. I am so going to, use these ideas posted. I have tried the nail work idea, and I just love it. People think I got them done at a nail salon, it looks like it but it's WAY cheeper