Made for Public


Serena Newmark

As the novel coronavirus spread and members of the public began wearing masks in public spaces, a German artist and designer named Iris Luckhaus decided to serve the cause of public health by designing an exceptionally well-fitting face mask.

Although she is versatile in her professional practice and frequently works as a graphic designer, illustrator, and educator, Luckhaus originally trained as a clothing designer at the Universität der Künste in Berlin under Dame Vivienne Westwood. Since her student days, Luckhaus has been intrigued by all manner of historical garments and has dedicated her time to understanding how to solve potential pattern problems and create garments that are particularly enjoyable to wear. As the pandemic quickly made the face mask a necessary protective accessory, Luckhaus put her training to work by designing an exceptional mask that would be both comfortable and functional.

I started to dive back into my own pattern cutting, and enjoyed having yet another interesting pattern problem to solve, one which I’ve never even considered before: how do we dress the human face? To me, good design is always functional, in a way that every tiny detail has to have a reason – and altogether, these details should make perfect sense as a whole.

After testing dozens of masks made from patterns published on the internet, Luckhaus decided to create a new type of mask that combined the most effective design elements of the mask styles already available. Most importantly, she was determined to design a mask that kept her glasses fog free and fit snuggly against her face with no gaps, as any open space between the mask and the face can reduce the mask’s effectiveness.

I decided to try and combine the better fitting features of the mask types I had tested, as a kind of hybrid, and invented some more details of my own . . . My Hybrid Mask has (a) an upturned backwards pleat which fits so snug that even for people with glasses, nose wires are an optional choice, (b) pleats in front that allow for unconstricted breathing and speaking, while the mask reliably stays in place, (c) a trapezoid shape which fits the anatomy of the human face and therefore avoids the usual bulging, and (d) side channels that help the mask fit gapless yet spacious on very different face shapes . . . the mask is quick and easy to sew, to iron, and to carry along!

While profit seeking professional garment creators may purchase a license to make and sell her mask, Luckhaus provides free patterns and assistance to mask makers sewing for their friends and family as well as those volunteering to sew masks for their communities. Luckhaus publishes her patterns alongside detailed instructions in both English and German on her website, and she dutifully answers any questions. In addition to posting her mask patterns in dedicated sewing groups on Facebook, Luckhaus also communicates with mask creators directly via LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. Luckhaus created additional patterns at user request, including mask patterns adapted for different shapes of noses and chins and for those with beards. She invites mask makers to share her pattern widely and publish their own versions of her mask online with the hashtag #LuckhausMask.

Images copyright

(c) 2021 IRIS LUCKHAUS All Rights Reserved

Cite this blog post
Romane Jamet (2021, July 1). Made for Public. Clothing the Pandemic. Retrieved June 18, 2024, from

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