Public Engagement

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Universal Materiality Collaborative: Designs for Aging and Disability - exhibition

Monday, February 25, 2019 at 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center 66 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10003

Universal Materiality showcases seven design works resulting from a research collaboration between the Institute of Textiles & Clothing (ITC) at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HKSAR (HKPolyU), and the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design lead by Grace Jun and Jeanne Tan. Developed in collaboration with Open Style Lab (OSL), a nonprofit dedicated to making style accessible for people with disabilities, this exhibition features designs incorporating explorations of smart materials. The collaborative work involved multi-disciplinary practitioners, including fashion designers, engineers, and occupational/physical therapists, as well as long-term residents from The Riverside Premier Rehabilitation and Healing Center.

This exhibition encourages you to consider the ways in which disability is interpreted in relation to bodies 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 currently available clothing that meets their needs is not reflective of positive relationships between style orientation and personal wellbeing. The body of work exhibited here seeks to strengthen the relationship between the design process and end users, while applying materials that contribute to style preferences and functional requirements in clothing.

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 Parsons School of Fashion Dean, Burak Cakmak, Parsons School of Fashion (RSCP), The New School Faculty Research Fund Award (FRF) from the Provost Office, and the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center.

Engage and learn more at


Related programming:

Tuesday, February 5

Exhibition Opening, 5:00-6:00 p.m. - Aronson Galleries 

Panel Discussion, 'Universal Materiality: Collaborative Design for Aging and Disability,'  6:30- 7:30 p.m. - Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Auditorium

66 Fifth Ave, Ground Floor

An exhibition viewing and panel discussion summarizing the collaboration with the Parsons, HKPOLYU, ITC, and Open Style Lab on the exploration made with textiles, design processes, and fashion for aging/disability.


The Panelists are asked to share his / her research focus in relation to the exhibition and broader topic of aging and disability as it pertains to design, health, and technology.

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By Train:
The 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q and L to 14th St./Union Square.
The A, C and E to 14th St. and 8th Ave.
The 1, 2 and 3 to 14th St. and 7th Ave.
The F and M to 14th St. and 6th Ave.
PATH train to 14th St. and 6th Ave.