All is not as it seems in Thomas Traum's hypnotic landscapes
To celebrate Uniqlo LifeWear in 2016, It’s Nice That has partnered with Uniqlo on New Perspectives. We asked four creatives to cast a Uniqlo garment of their choosing in a new light. With ingenuity and technical flair, the results have seen artist Nick Veasey, designer Jesse Auersalo, digital artist Thomas Traum, and photographer Rebecca Scheinberg all represent Uniqlo’s LifeWear philosophy in new and unexpected ways. The project is an exploration of how Uniqlo approaches clothing year on year by championing modern design details and innovating the most everyday of garments.
This is the fourth article in a four-part series
If you look closely, in the small and frothy waves of a vivid sea of yellow, or the rolling mounds of a sand dune, which are thrown into relief as the sun overhead moves in time lapse, you can just about make out the almost imperceptible seams of a jacket. These glowing, hypnotic landscapes rendered by Thomas Traum, the London-based digital studio run by Thomas Eberwein, are created to resemble the surface of a fluorescent Womens Light Pocketable Parka from Uniqlo as part of New Perspectives.
The pocketable parka is water repellent, compact, and offers UV protection. In his response to the New Perspectives brief, Thomas has visualised these three properties. “You can always uncover beauty in the properties of a product,” he explains. “We started off with the idea of using the garment as a flag and putting it in different environments but gradually we moved toward something simpler and simpler. What we ended up with was the essence of the main three properties of the jacket.”
The resulting three renders either transform the jacket into landscapes or place it in outdoor environments. “With UV protection it was quite straightforward. We simplified it more and more to just working with light and shadow, and we imagined the jacket as a sand dune,” says Thomas.
“If you fold clothing or drop clothing on the floor it creates these waves, and I think there is something in that image which naturally fit."Thomas Traum
When it came to representing water repellency, the answer was in the fabric itself. “If you fold clothing or drop clothing on the floor it creates these waves, and I think there is something in that image which naturally fit. I really love those simulations of water and that beautiful motion. I thought it would be nice to recreate that and use that beautiful texture of the jacket instead.”
For compactness, he liked the literal idea of showing something with changing scale: “it was the idea of going from small to big.” The outdoor element present throughout also complements the jacket as a piece of outerwear. “Especially when it came to representing something foldable, it feels like this protective thing, almost like a lifeboat,” says Thomas.
The studio collaborated with London producer Loom to create original sound designs for the three films. “Loom is much more of a musician than a sound designer, so I wanted him to create three beautiful loops,” Thomas explains. “The whole idea of looping is something we found quite interesting because it means the final piece is almost like a still image. I wanted to have the music be a translation of the movements, so instead of having water sound effects Loom has made the music behave like water.”
Drawn to the pocketable parka for its lightness and simplicity, Thomas welcomed the challenges that come with recreating the look and movement of fabric. “It’s a nice challenge. Uniqlo have this clever, minimal approach, which was really present in the jacket we worked with,” he says.
“Working digitally with these 3D tools, there’s a sort of fallacy that you can do anything, but it takes a lot of time and it’s all based on real life elements. You create maybe the motion in one programme, and all your colours, texturing, light you do in another package, and then you put everything together in a compositing software. It’s in an interesting process and these kind of projects are always a good way to try out new things.”
The idea at the heart of all of Uniqlo’s clothing is LifeWear – clothes that make your life better. Style doesn’t have to be superficial; it can keep you warmer, cooler, drier. Uniqlo create LifeWear by evolving the ordinary, producing innovations big and small that benefit you every day.