John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
This weather-producing coat out of Cambridge is perfect for city-dwellers who want privacy.
Remember the OwnZown, that blinding metallic polyhedron that slips over the head to create private space in the big city? Design consortium Ibanez Kim Studio has created a jacket that achieves the same purpose in an even weirder way, by puffing out a human-sized cumulus cloud.
The "Cloud Cloak" runs on a modified fog machine that runs along the spine, similar to the bio-armor from Alien. A flip of a switch makes it smoke like a hunk of dry ice on a summer afternoon. Say the designers:
It emits a cover that negates the objectifying gaze of the observer. In a pervasive urban environment, the occupant may obscure their gender, their race, their identity.
The device also allows the subject to choose a moment of respite and willful separation from the city as the cloud creates a singular space of occupancy.
As with the OwnZown, the unusual nature of this wearable art might have the opposite effect of establishing privacy. I can just imagine coming home dripping wet each day from people who think I'm on fire hurling buckets of water on me. For that reason, the Cloud Cloak would appear to be troublesome in movie theaters or any sort of confined space where citizens could stampede.
On the plus side, you'd never have a dry throat and your skin would be exceedingly supple, though I'd hope not raisined. It would also be brilliant camouflage in naturally foggy cities like Seattle, allowing the owner to dissolve into the mist like a phantom. With security cameras recording nothing but drifting mist, let's hope people don't use the Cloud Cloak for evil.
The design studio has offices in Boston and Philadelphia and is managed by Mariana Ibañez, who teaches architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and Simon Kim, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Design. Their portfolio is full of other wily works, like this reimagined landscape for the garden of MoMA's PS1 and a line of "robot couture" to clothe the domestic cyber-servants of the future. (H/t Fashioning Tech.)