Jonah Stillman and Rebecca Barnes

We were tasked with creating an everyday piece of clothing and giving it a useful function/functions. The focus of the studio was specifically around improving pants. Our take on this idea was to create a pair of pants that could support your back and help fix your posture when sitting. When we began, we looked at different ways that had already been used to create support for the back. We looked at how back braces were designed, and how that could be worked into a pair of pants.


Iteration 1

We began by trying to emulate an elastic style back-brace that we could possibly implement in the pants design. We used thin bands of elastic and used zip ties to affix them to wooden support rods. We decided to use rods to support our brace because the braces we had used as precedents used plastic rods to provide structure as well. This brace was designed to wrap from the back and join at the front. we did this using velcro to affix the two ends. When we completed it we, we realized the dowels we used for support were too uncomfortable and the elastics were not stretchy enough to provide any real tension. We were at this point also considering a folding mechanism to make the brace retractable.


Iteration 2

To create a more comfortable system, we looked at existing designs that demonstrated lumbar support through straps that would wrap around the knees and back supporting the lower back. We took this idea and created a strapping system using the same material as our back brace. We attached the straps at the knees so when the person is sitting, they can have the support they need instead of a chair-back or a separate lumbar support system. For easy accessibility, we cut holes in the pockets of the pants so that the user can reach in his or her pockets and have their lumbar support. We found that the issues with this design consisted of not enough support in the lumbar area.   


Iteration 3

We continued with our design and sewed the straps to the inside of the pants around the knee area. Due to the needed improvements from our previous iteration, we created another version of our design with an added piece of material in the back that the straps can attach too using velcro, opposed to the previous way of attaching the straps to each other. This gave our design a better sense of support and can help the user feel more comfortable.


Iteration 4

To improve upon our previous design, we looked to creating inflatables. The current design did not provide enough shape for the back when sitting, and with an integrated air pocket, one could theoretically decides how much curvature one needed when sitting down. We practiced crimping pockets using a heat iron and pvc plastic sheeting (shower curtain material) and made different pockets to hold the inflatable we created. We eventually sewed a pocket for the inflatable into our final design. In order to get air in and out of the air pocket, we decided to try to emulate a pump/valve system that could be stored in the user’s pocket. The motion of pumping the air in is theoretically discrete and quick. We sewed a new, finished backing and attached it to the pants.


Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. During this studio we chose to address this issue and create a convenient way for people to support their lower back to help prevent further pain or injury, and is less noticeable and less of a hassle than the traditional back brace.

We designed a pair of pants that have an attached lumbar support system that is easily accessible whenever a person needs it. Consisting of an inflatable system with straps that fasten this support to your back, our design is a more convenient and subtle way to fix a user’s lumbar issues.


Rebecca Barnes

Process Post

John Duval and Nathaniel Freeman
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    For people that travel often, or commute once and a while carrying and managing their stuff is always the biggest concern. With backpacks, you can by a big one if you need one but then you can't use it for smaller tasks. Backpacks always take up lots of space, no matter how big or small. Although a briefcase may be a smaller solution, you have to carry it with you all of the time. This might not be awful for shorter commutes, but for longer walks, you will have to switch arms relatively often. With briefcases and backpacks you are unable to access your things while on the move. They are usually out of immediate reach, which also makes them easier to pickpocket from. Backpacks can only be adjusted to different tightness settings, making them either on your back or off of your back in the size that you buy it in. 

    Our pants are a set of normal pants with a strap system that mounts to dowels. This then allows pockets of various shapes and sizes to be added to the pants. For a big trip, like hiking for example, having all of your clothes and other equipment stored in your hiking bag can be very strenuous on your back. If they are on your legs, then you won't feel a lot of extra muscle strain if you balance the pockets on each leg. When you aren't on a hiking trip, and are just going to work, you can take off or add on as many pockets as you like. Because our pants are fully modular, they fit any lifestyle or career path. Whether you are living in nature or living in the city, these pants are perfect for you.

    To make our pocket system we took design queues from many different places. Our first idea was to have the pockets free hanging off of the pants. We soon realized that this wasn't the best idea. Then we came up with the solution of having some sort of semi-rigid body that would be sewn into the pants. Despite being semi-rigid, it would still constrict movement to the point that it may be uncomfortable. However, we still wanted to look into this. The first thing we looked at was a back brace. This is an elastic piece of cloth with one or two semi-rigid spines that keep your back in the right position, without restricting movement too much. The next thing we looked at was a hiking backpack internal frame. This helped us a lot by not only showing us how something that holds its shape could be sewn into fabric, but it also showed us a lot about how weight balancing works. The last thing we looked at was the way that a tent is put together. This really got us rethinking our semi-rigid design. This showed us that with dowels or something similar, we could make a mounting piece that fit into the pants or even on adjustable straps that could be taken on or off. This is where we started working and we got into our prototypes.

    After sketching out our ideas, we jumped right into prototyping. The first iteration was a frame with a few pockets on it. We made these with hot glue and felt. This was a proof of concept, then we started learning how to sew. This was very helpful because we were able to take our prototype pockets and expand on them later. The second iteration was a frame that mounted on the side of the leg with a joint at the knee. We wanted to explore this and one without a joint because we weren't sure whether structural strength or full range of movement would be more important. We laser cut a frame with a belt mount from cardboard. Then we attached a lazy Susan as a joint. If we did continue with this design, we probably would have ended up using some other form of a sliding mechanism instead of a ball bearing system. This did prove that it'd allow forward and backward movement, but not a lot of flexibility to more free flowing motion. The next iteration was one with a break at the knee. This design was a little big simpler, it was cardboard rings that were mounted in pairs above and below the knee. we also used small struts to provide support for the two rings. This design worked as expected. It ended up working well and it showed us that with more flexibility comes less overall structural integrity. We decided to pursue the frame with a break at the knee instead of one with a joint. The next step involved making straps that were held together with 3D printed clips that held dowels in the middle. This was the design that we further expanded into our final product of this studio. This design allows for full range of movement with a great amount of structural support for the pockets. The next step was making the pockets as well as a mounting system for them. The pockets themselves weren't too difficult to make, but the mounting system required a bit of brainstorming. We had to take the dowel clips, and adapt them so that the are open on the top. We used fusion to model them and they work very well. We mounted them to the back of the pockets with a strap that we sewed on.

    In the end, our pants solved a big problem: having a structurally sound, secure, adaptable, space for you to hold all of the things you need for your day. Whether you travel all around the world, or around your town, our modular pants are perfect for you.

Final post

John Duval and Nathaniel Freeman
1 / 6

Carrying things on the plane is nalways difficult especially because you have to manage your things and keep them near you but out of other peoples way. Our pants solve this issue because you can bring everything you need for your trip with you and keep it on you at all times, without intruding into other people's space. When you arrive at your hotel, you can take all of your pockets off, if you want to go out for dinner without any extra items. Using a fully adaptable mounting system, pockets can be adjusted and taken off completely depending on what you need. The straps could be sewn in, or put on the outside, allowing for you to use this on any pair of pants that you like. Because of its modularity, it has many different use cases, you can use it with all of the pockets, or with none of the pockets. We explored different ways of making a similar product, including a frame with a joint. The reason that the idea of a joint fell through was because it didn't allow the user to have normal flow of motion, which takes a lot out of the comfort aspect. The current mechanism and frame allows for the best overall experience. 


Calder Martin and James Turner