UV Reactive Shirt for PM Lee | Will & Well x SUTD-MIT

UV Reactive Shirt for PM Lee | Will & Well x SUTD-MIT
A shirt that detects UV intensity? That was what the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) had in mind when they approached us. With the ever increasing yet invisible threat of UV,  SUTD-MIT International Design Centre (IDC) researched on visual systems that could warn people against dangerous UV levels. They wanted to explore this solution as a shirt and more specifically, commission it for the VVIP of their Ministerial Forum, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Our solution with SUTD was a batik shirt created with UV reactive silkscreen ink and embroidery thread. We had one month to take the project from ideation, experimentation, and finally to production.

Exploring the UV spectrum

UV paint and threads photos

UV paint reacts turn blue

Experimenting with a new medium, we had to pay attention to every single detail. We spent many hours in the studio and under the sun documenting the range of colours each ink and thread was capable of and how they complemented with the base fabric, linen.

Elisa working under the sunShirt reacts under sunlight with UV spectrum

At the end of this rigorous process, we created a colour scale that matched with UV intensity. Using this scale, anyone can easily get a good gauge of the current UV levels and decide if they should seek shelter.

Designing a Symbol

Beyond being a technological solution, the shirt is also a symbolic representation of Singapore’s effort to tackle global warming. Therefore, the base pattern is inspired by the molecular structure of greenhouse gases. On the lower thirds of the shirt, we created another pattern based on fauna and flora that are unique to Singapore’s landscape.

Tracing symbol for shirt

Embroidering symbol

Through a combination of silkscreening and embroidery, we created a shirt for Singapore's Prime Minister that is both a solution to UV awareness and a symbol of Singapore’s efforts towards a sustainable ecosystem. 

UV Reactive Shirt under shade

UV Reactive Shirt under sun


UV Reactive Batik Shirt for SUTD Founder

As part of the same Ministerial Forum, SUTD also commissioned a customized UV reactive shirt for its founder. A central figure in SUTD, the school’s founder is inextricably linked to the campus and the lives of his students.

UV Reactive Shirt design for SUTD Founder

SUTD Founder UV Reactive Shirt under sunlight

We wanted to create a shirt that represented his ties to SUTD. Exploring various images revolving the school and campus, we spotted that the birds-eye view of the school building he is in had an interesting form. It was also a central sanctuary that anchors him and the school. So, using that as a key motif, we created this piece through silk screening and embroidery. Special thanks to Scub by Destiny Child for powering us through the intense silk screening process.

Will&Well’s collaboration with SUTD is an example of how we are constantly experimenting with new mediums. We believe that more than just aesthetics, clothing when combined with technology and design, can become actual solutions to problems.


MIT Urban Risk Lab:
Miho Mazereeuw, Larisa Ovalles, Monica Britt Hutton

Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) International Design Center (IDC):

Delane Foo Wei En, Zack Huang, Kenneth Teo Liguang, Bradley Camburn and Chia Pei Zhi

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