Four world-leading Zero Waste designers held a seminar in the lecture theatre at Chelsea College of Art and Design on 28th of March. The day was introduced by TED Senior Research Fellow Dr Kate Goldsworthy, and was the first event where the designers Julian MacDonald, Timo Rissanen, Holly MacQuillan and David Telfer spoke together about their practice in Zero Waste pattern cutting. 115 participants were booked for the seminar in the morning, mostly coming from the fashion and textile courses at UAL.
The first speaker was Timo Rissanen presenting his PhD research. Timo’s first strong statement was that aesthetics are a vital consideration in zero waste pattern cutting: ‘It is easy to make an ugly zero-waste garment’. He demonstrated his zero waste work spanning over ten years to his most recent projects, including the 15% project with Salla Salin. Although he claims some of his work might be complicated and complex, using more fabric to achieve a Zero Waste approach, he also debated what the meaning of simplicity is in fashion design. Some of his students at Parsons the New School of Design, where he leads the Zero Waste elective, have developed zero waste garments that are indistinguishable from traditional patterns such as a traditional white shirt and a parka. Finally he presented the collaborative project he started with Otto von Busch amongst others: ‘The Fashion Praxis Collective’. More information is available on Timo’s website.
The second speaker was Holly MacQuillan. Holly spoke about risk-taking, and all of her work reflects this approach. To her, Zero Waste ‘embraces uncertainty as a way of responding sensitively to both materials and instability of the environment’, and is ‘a step away from egocentric hierarchical design models’. She developed her TWINSET garments through a challenge to make a men’s simple hoodie and trousers from a zero waste pattern. Her project ‘Make Use’ developed in collaboration with Local Wisdom, and she published tutorials for Zero Waste garments online on makuse.info.
David Telfer brought a different perspective to the day, as he is talking from experience in industry, while the other practitioners come from teaching and academic research. The development of his degree project at the University of Brighton looked at speed of clothing manufacturing processes. His minimal seam garment project explored how to produce a garment in 30 minutes. David also presented his collaborations with TED that resulted from his Zero Waste garment in the Yield exhibition in 2011. As for the other presenters, he introduced the presentation with his inspiration taken from history, where zero waste has approaches have been used. TED contacted him to develop work for the VF Futurewear exhibition in 2012, where he made a Zero Waste prototype garments for the North Face. He has worked on the FIREup funded Laser Line project with Dr Kate Goldsworthy and is currently working with the TED team members Professor Kay Politowicz and Dr Kate Goldsworthy on a new project for the online exhibition launching on our Textiletoolbox platform in October 2014.
The final speaker was Julian Roberts. All three previous speakers had quoted Julian as an inspiration, as he was the first one publishing his work online and so connecting to the other researchers across the globe. Timo and Holly discovered Julian’s work online while developing their own approach for Zero Waste pattern cutting. A film that showed extracts of his workshops, fashion shows, historical inspiration and other creative projects in film was the back-drop for Julian’s energetic presentation. Julian questions the role of the designer through research, video, websites and fashion. Using teaching and workshops to develop his approach and to promote ‘lateral thinking’ he says “the more you show a technique to an audience the more you simplify it.” Julian Roberts is a creative visionary who developed his own techniques working with body measurements rather than metrics through ‘lateral thinking’, and questions how education should evolve. As Holly, he embraces serendipity: “A lot of my best work is from happy mistakes”.
The seminar was followed by an invitation only workshop in Chelsea’s Green Room in the afternoon, where Holly MacQuillan demonstrated Zero Waste pattern cutting to a group of TED researchers and a few invited guests. Holly’s workshop introduced us to one of the main motivations behind her work: risk-taking. She has developed several approaches to Zero Waste pattern cutting depending on the fabric type and the pattern requirements. The slides presentation demonstrated expertise and ingeniousness in using pattern cuts for strategic garment outcomes. She then demonstrated her approach with a rectangular piece of cloth folded in two, where all she cut out was the neck, and the sleeve. On a mannequin, she showed how draping can develop several garment shapes form this simple starting point. She uses the cut out fabric for the collar, and a structural inset in the back of the fabric. All workshops partcipants developed their own garment in teams.
The Twitter feed of the event is available under #ZeroWaste.