See The Unseen’s Emporium at Somerset House

In the December issue of CR, we speak to the founder of The Unseen, an “exploration house” using science, technology and traditional craft to create products that change colour in response to the environment. The company has now launched an emporium at London’s Somerset House, housing bespoke designs, colour-changing gifts and accessories and a piece of clothing that can read your aura…

The Unseen was founded this year by 28-year-old Lauren Bowker, who developed a pollution sensing ink which changed colour in response to carbon dioxide while studying at Manchester School of Art. Bowker developed further colour-changing inks while studying textiles at the Royal College of Art, which responded to environmental changes such as heat, light and wind. After running her own consultancy for two years, decided to launch a business that would allow her to apply the technology to a range of textiles.

Located in the New Wing of Somerset House, the emporium offers a look at some of The Unseen’s one-off creations and the science behind its products. Items on display include ‘Air’ (pictured top), a series of colour-changing hand crafted leather garments that change colour in response to environmental changes such as touch and wind, as demonstrated in the film below:


A headpiece made out of 4,000 spinel gemstones for Swarovski, which change colour in response to the wearer’s brain activity:

And the Eighth Sense: a new garment (viewed by appointment only) which uses digital technology to read human EEG and biodata and project its wearer’s state of mind. The garment is made out of hundreds of hand painted fins, which change colour in response to emotions – red indicates anger or anxiety, for example, while blue reflects a sense of calm. As well as being a beautiful product, Bowker hopes the technology could, in the future, be used by healthcare professionals to monitor pain, distress or anxiety in patients:

pic via @_seetheunseen

Also on display at the emporium is Artefact: a range of colour-changing gifts and accessories for sale, priced between £25 and £75. There’s a calf leather-bound colour changing notebook, hand poured candles which change colour as they burn, quills which change colour as users write and feathers painted with the same reactive ink, known as Magick. Elsewhere, display cabinets house product catalogues, swatches and Unseen postcards and merchandise.

The space is beautifully decorated, with vintage furnishings, aged textbooks and scientific specimens adding a touch of theatre, and it’s a real treat to see The Unseen’s amazing products up close.

The emporium is open until 2015 and The Unseen is also hosting a series of hands-on workshops and events, including a series this weekend where visitors can paint their own colour-changing feather (tickets are priced at £45, details here).

pic via @unseenemporium


The Unseen Emporium is open 10am-6pm Mon-Sun, and until 9pm on Thursdays until May 2015 – for details, see or

Read our interview with Bowker in the December issue of Creative Review, out now.