Byline: Melissa Drier

BERLIN — Once into designer price points, the practical application of clothing tends to slip the mind. “Energetics: Clothes and Enclosures,” a joint exhibit here featuring the work of designer Yeohlee Teng and Malaysian architect Ken Yeang, seeks to remind us of that protective function by comparing clothing to another form of shelter, buildings.
The exhibit opened May 22 at the Aedes East architecture gallery in Berlin’s very happening Mitte, where it will run until June 19.
In August, it moves on to the Netherlands Architecture Institute (NAI) Gallery in Rotterdam as part of the NAI’s 10th anniversary celebration. Additional stops in Tokyo, Vienna and Paris are also being considered.
The project examines the analogies between clothing and buildings as “our second and third skins,” says Kristin Feireiss of the NAI.
It consists of panels explaining the concepts of both disciplines. On display are models of Yeang’s design for a 40-story tower in Pudong, Shanghai, which showcases his bioclimatic design approach, and Yeohlee’s clothing installation, which follows a garment from flat fabric to finished article.
The idea for the show came up over an impromptu lunch in New York a year and a half ago.
Yeohlee and Yeang attended a seminar on Dutch architecture hosted by Feireiss, and afterwards, the three sat discussing “my work and Ken’s,” Yeohlee recalled.
Her talk of fashion as “intimate architecture,” which was also the title of a 1983 MIT show that featured her work, helped spur the trio to a formal investigation of the correlations between fashion and architecture.
Yeohlee sees many similarities between the principles that guide her work and those behind Yeang’s.
Both believe in the conservation of energy and material; both define space around the human form, and both produce climate-responsive enclosures.
“There is the aspect of clothes as portable architecture,” Yeohlee said, “and our clothes, which are modular, are also our shelters, which is the main function of buildings.”
Yet, even with all these similarities, one of the most striking points of the exhibition is the vast difference in the results — the simplicity of Yeohlee’s fashion creations is in sharp contrast to Yeang’s extremely complex architectural constructions.

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