Angella Mackey

Leigh & Sarah (2013)

This project was a design commission for the Social Body Lab‘s Nudgeables Accessory Kit, a hardware kit developed to create paired sets of wireless wearable communication devices. I produced two accessories using the kit.

We sometimes use secret codes to communicate with our friends, partners or colleagues while in the company of a larger group: a nudge, a cough, a scratch of the nose; something that says “save me from this conversation”, “let’s get out of here”, or “I’m thinking of you”.  What if our clothing could communicate these messages for us? A Nudgeables device employs a radio transceiver, a “Nudger”, and a “Notifier” to enable two people to nudge each other from across a room. Each kit contains a button and a vibration motor so that two people can buzz each other back and forth. The question is – what could I hide these electronics in that they could wear on their body?

I created a pair of accessories with two characters in mind, Leigh and Sarah.


Their Story

Childhood friends Leigh and Sarah are young, energetic and love experimenting with what they wear. Fashion is an important tool for them – it’s how they express themselves, connect with each other, and it makes their time together more enjoyable.

Their Nudgeables devices have given them a new way of experiencing clothing. At parties they send secret signals to each other to help them get through challenging social encounters – there’s that guy headed Sarah’s way… maybe I’ll give her an encouraging nudge. Both accessories have been designed with Leigh and Sarah’s personalities and style in mind. Leigh is the more outgoing, and so her collar–necklace hybrid is a daring piece. Her edgy though sophisticated style is reflected in this plain shirt collar combined with shredded chiffon and gunmetal chains. To balance out the unusual nature of the accessory, the rest of her outfit is minimal. The eye is instinctively drawn to the accessory.

Sarah is an observer. She loves standing in the background, watching. She often wears black, dressing boyishly though still feminine. Her Native American-inspired beaded necklace hangs low on her torso and blends with her more casual look, a long baggy dress.

Both pieces are designed to be tactile. Beaded necklaces almost ask to be rubbed, to pass the beads between the fingers. Leigh’s collar piece is also handled when worn. It lends itself to being combed with the fingers, even detangled like hair as it sits on the chest. Touching two of the opposing chains together sends a nudge to Sarah’s necklace. Because it looks natural to handle both pieces, the girl’s communication with each other is discreet. Their secret messages go unseen, hidden in the girls’ natural gestures.

The Nudgeables Accessories