Going round in circles…. Can coloured fashion and textiles be sustainable? By Dr. Dawn Ellams

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For most designers the relationship we have with colour is a huge part of our personal handprint on the work we create; and as consumers colour is all around us and is an integral part of the decision making process for purchases. However, when aiming to produce future sustainable fashion and textiles the environmental consequences of the creation and application of colour and the implications of the processes used are less obvious.

 

Embarking on my PhD I was fascinated by how such a complex, integral piece of fashion textile design and production, profoundly reliant on petrochemical resources, can evolve to fit within a model of sustainability. My research explored reducing the environmental impact of coloured fashion textiles, exploring the life cycle of products through an interdisciplinary approach where the creativity of design thinking is underpinned by the technical inquiry of coloration technology, to provide models for short-term and long-term solutions for sustainability.

 

A reoccurring thread within my research is natural versus synthetic. Although in some very niche, small, local cases natural may be better, on a commercial, large scale it is much more complex.  Producing coloured fashion and textiles requires two key elements – fibre and dyestuff. Navigating my way through fibre choices was at times daunting, but ultimately I decided to work with a regenerated cellulose fibre, Lyocell, which is technically ‘natural’ but produced within a manmade chemical process.

 

This fibre choice set up a biological life cycle framework to work within to create sustainable coloured fashion textiles. For colour choice (dyestuff), the natural versus synthetic argument raged much more zealously, with the only definitive conclusion on offer being whether from natural or synthetic sources, all colour for textiles has some level of negative environmental impacts. In the end it’s all about appropriateness.

 

Frustrated by being just an observer and desperately needing more definitive answers to how sustainable coloured fashion textiles can be designed and produced, I carved out a space for my research in the ‘space in-between’ science and design. Through my project this context became a place to explore sustainable textiles from ‘within’ the system; not from a purely design or science perspective, but from an obscure and fascinating little area in the middle where the disciplines intertwine.

 

Working at this design/technology interface enabled me to create definitive outcomes for my research, negatives would become positives and vice versa, as the two disciplines collided within my provocative new space. This provided both the creative methods and outcomes but also, vitally for me, underpinned with environmental credentials. As a designer I began not just to understand but also challenge the technical implications of my design decisions, using this new knowledge to ultimately design product life cycles.

 

I was incredibly fortunate to have an amazing supervisor during my research, a colour chemist who loved learning about design as much as I loved learning about science. It was this relationship between a chemist and a designer, the openness and trust we developed – constantly challenging and questioning the other – and ultimately jumping together into the ‘space in-between’ from which the developed interdisciplinary methodology from my research emerged.

 

My research concluded that both sustainable and responsible coloration is possible at a commercial scale within cyclical models of design and production.

The First Trash-2-Cash Podcast

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During the Trash-2-Cash workshop in Milan in the beginning of the summer, Professor Becky Earley sat down with project partner Julie Hornix (VanBerlo) to talk social design, megatrends, and summer reading recommendations. This is the first podcast in a series that will explore the people, methods and tools involved in the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project. Once the outcomes phase of the project has been completed they will also host in-depth discussions about the impact these will have on the world. You can download the podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud now! Julie has written the post below to accompany the podcast.

 

Over the past couple of months Ivo, Marjorie and I have had the pleasure of taking part in the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project representing the Dutch design agency VanBerlo.

 

VanBerlo is passionate about helping our planet.
We’re also passionate about design and technological opportunities. So for us, this partnership was a match made in heaven. Here’s a short round up of our role and goals for T2C.

 

Dream Green!
At VanBerlo, we crave new approaches to the re-use of materials and waste reduction. To dream is to think big, and by thinking big you can come up with countless ideas to help the environment through design. We love to bridge the ideas with the visual, enabling us to go that one step further.

Joining the T2C project, VanBerlo’s goal is to help recycle textile from a design-driven perspective. Alongside the other T2C partners, we aim to increase the value of the end product (instead of traditional downcycling) – to upcycle and contribute to the grave to cradle initiative – no matter which industry is involved.

 

Not only do we bring global trend research to the table, but we also explore ideas in novel ways that help to produce surprising insights.
As our Senior Designer Ivo Lamers explains,“We believe that design thinking will help bridge the gap between science, technology and practice. This approach helps to boost the entire T2C project! At VanBerlo we often use metaphors to get discussions started, intensified, structured or sometimes even ended. Using the superhero metaphor during the Helsinki workshop initiated a huge team spark and helped to create common understanding and a common language between the partners about scenarios.”

 

We make sure that our ideas aren’t just cool; but that they also answer business challenges and user needs.
At the end of the day success for us is that the results should be accessible and globally relevant, rather than just being created for a niche market.

Julie Hornix, Design Researcher, Van Berlo

 

Podcast Links

VanBerlo

Change Ahead book

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close book

This American Life podcast

99% invisible podcast

TED PhD Researcher Exhibiting at Experiencing Change / Changing Experience

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Bridget Harvey is exhibiting in Experiencing Change / Changing Experience at ONCA Gallery, Brighton from 27th July –5th August. Her piece the Spelman Cups (2016) explores Elizabeth Spelman’s definitions of non-repairers and our complex relationship with repair.

 

The exhibition investigates a world where environment and society is in a state of flux with large, and sometimes devastating changes predicted for the future. Change can seem inevitable or out of our hands, so how much influence do we have on change? Do we just react to the changes we experience or can we intervene?

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International artists from the e:collective launch their debut exhibition of new work exploring relationships with change on a social, economic, environmental and personal level. The exhibition will challenge, enact, refresh and stimulate our perceptions and thoughts on change, and will be viewed alongside current research by scientists at the Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge.

 

During the exhibition, artists in residence Mark Vennegoor and Aurora Sciabarra will each develop new work in the gallery, inviting visitors to participate in their practice. The project is devised by lead artist Valerie Furnham in collaboration with researcher Dr. Rosie Robison [GSI], and with the support of Arts Council England, ONCA Gallery and the Global Sustainability Institute.

 

PREVIEW | Tuesday 26th July 6:30pm – 9pm. Please RSVP to valerie.furnham@gmail.com

 

Address
ONCA Gallery | 14 St. George’s Place, Brighton BN1 4GB

 

Date
27th July –5th August 2016

EcoSessions: The Crisis of Stuff

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TED researcher Professor Rebecca Earley will be one of the panelists in EcoSessions: The Crisis of Stuff panel discussion later this week. The panel consists of Beyond Retro’s CEO Steven Bethell, the co-founder of Fashion Revolution Orsola de Castro and will be moderated by ethical fashion and sustainable living expert Kate Black.

 

The fashion industry is producing 150 billion garments per year and too many are ending up in landfill. This EcoSession focuses on the crisis of a consumerism, consumption and the opportunity for change. The panelists will give the audience a fuller, richer and more honest picture of our current ‘crisis of stuff’ and what can be done about it.

 

Steven Bethell: Beyond Retro CEO Steven Bethell has been in the recycling business for over 20 years, starting out with glass, cans, and paper before moving on to textiles. As an offshoot of his Canada-based textile trade company Bank & Vogue, Beyond Retro was an early pioneer of the east London vintage scene at its inception 13 years ago, and remains a seminal retailer for savvy secondhand shoppers across the UK and Sweden. The brand comes to Pure with its eponymous Beyond Retro Label, a fully-fledged fashion brand of apparel and accessories crafted from reclaimed materials. Bethell’s career-defining passion for sustainability makes him the perfect candidate to advise retailers on successfully integrating this message into their marketing strategy.

 

Prof. Rebecca Earley: Trained as a printed textile designer (BA Hons, Loughborough, 1992) and fashion print designer (MA, Central Saint Martins, 1994), Becky set up the B.Earley studio in 1995 with help from the Prince’s Trust, Arts Council and the Crafts Council. She is also a design researcher at University of the Arts London and an industry consultant. She divides her working life between Central Saint Martins where she is Director of TFRC, Chelsea College of Arts where she is a principal and co researcher in TED, and Sweden where she is key part of the research consortium work for MISTRA Future Fashion and the EU Horizon 2020 project, Trash-2-Cash. Prof. Earley also supervises PhD researchers who are exploring sustainable textile design and material innovation.

 

Orsola de Castro: A pioneer and internationally recognised opinion leader in sustainable fashion. In 1997 she founded From Somewhere, a label designing clothes made entirely from pre-consumer waste: disregarded materials such as surplus and production cut-offs. The label combined sustainable thinking with fashion-forward design, bringing quality and craftsmanship to ‘exquisite rubbish’. From Somewhere collaborations include Jigsaw, Tesco, Speedo, and a series of best selling capsule collections for Topshop. In 2006, she co-founded the British Fashion Council pioneering initiative Estethica, which she curated until 2014. Estethica was London Fashion Week’s showcase for labels designing sustainably: ethics and aesthetics combined. It nurtured new generations of like-minded designers and supported more established brands who are mindful of their supply chain. In 2014, with Carry Somers, she founded Fashion Revolution Day, marking the disaster in Dhaka, Bangladesh on 24 April 2013 when the Rana Plaza factory collapsed killing and injuring thousands of workers. Raising public awareness of the continuing social and environmental catastrophes in our global fashion supply chains, Fashion Revolution has become a global campaign with participation in over 85 countries around the world. Orsola is a regular key note speaker and mentor as well as a Central Saint Martins Visiting Fellow and Practitioner in Residence for Central Saint Martins Fashion MA.

 

Kate Black: Recognized as an expert in ethical fashion and sustainable living, Kate Black is the founder of Magnifeco.com (launched ’09) and author of ‘Magnifeco: Your Head-to-Toe Guide to Ethical Fashion and Non-Toxic Beauty’ (published 10/15), which has been featured in The Guardian, Vogue Italia, Metro, NOW Magazine and more. Kate is also the founder of EcoSessions, a global event series connecting industry, designers and citizens to discuss change. Fashioned to provide learning, engagement and networking, EcoSessions are an opportunity for industry and the design communities to forge relationships and hatch collaborations and for citizens to engage directly with their favorite brands. She is highly in demand as a speaker and consults with CFDA fashion brands on elevating their Ethical IQ.

 

Book your ticket here!

 

Address:
Beyond Retro Dalston – 92-100 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 7XB

Date:
Wednesday, July 20, 2016 from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM

‘Making… together’ by Dr Rosie Hornbuckle

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My background is product and industrial design with an interest in social innovation, so when I started working at TED on the Trash2Cash project last November, I wanted to explore how my world fits into Textile Design and the interests of TED researchers.

 

What I discovered were the many overlaps in methods and models between the two disciplines, but also the spaces in between.  In terms of making and materials there is still a difference in materials understanding; product design students are taught hard materials, fashion and textiles students are taught soft materials.  This is starting to change, for example in the ‘stitch’ option on the BA Textile Design course at Chelsea, students are putting all sorts of hard and soft materials together, and the MA Material Futures course at CSM continues to push at those traditional boundaries.

 

This intersection between hard and soft materials (and disciplines) appeared to me to be a bridge I could cross from my existing knowledge into the new (to me) world of Textiles.  At the same time, I was exploring experimental research methods that could be useful in TEDs current and future work.

 

Enter Vicky Cable, a forward-thinking upholsterer and an extraordinary person (more on that later!) who wanted to explore more sustainable methods in her work.  The ‘collaborative chairs’ idea was first suggested by Becky Earley whilst exploring ideas for the Circular Transitions conference exhibition, the seed was sewn, and so the ‘making…together’ project began.

 

The act of re-upholstery is in itself a good solution to the aging of a piece of furniture, repairing and updating the aesthetic.  Yet, as Vicky and I explored in our first meeting, it also exposes many unsustainable and worrying trends in the furniture industry, such as speed, cost and the use of inappropriate materials – all of which are currently being explored by TED researchers in relation to Textiles. In furniture, the contrast between the speeds of the materials is heightened, because hard materials are more durable and soft materials (padding as well as the fabric) degrade and wear relatively quickly.  The process of re-upholstery exposes this tension brilliantly and therefore offers a unique opportunity to understand not only how the materials used in re-upholstery could be reconsidered but also how the design and manufacture of upholstered furniture could be improved at the outset.

 

For me, sustainability is never just about materials, but also about people, so this project will also consider that angle, in terms of the designer’s activism and approach and the accessibility of more sustainable products and solutions.

TED’s Sustainable Practice Award 2016

At this year’s outstanding BA Textile Degree show at Chelsea College of Arts, TED awarded a Sustainable Practice Award with a focus on innovation and environmental consideration. It was given to students who demonstrated excellent practice and progressive thinking in sustainable textile design.  The TED team was truly impressed by the overall high standard of work this year, which was demonstrated through craftsmanship, highly developed concepts and original ideas. We are pleased to announce that the winners of TED’s Sustainable Practice Award 2016 are:

 

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Abigail Fletcher for combining design and technology in her interactive textile range. Her work is concerned with the future of textiles, by promoting the importance of new technologies and to encourage others to consider how these can be used to solve problems and transform how we live. In the collection, whether the audio becomes physical, or the physical becomes audio, music and technology constantly act in tandem to reveal the possibilities of tactile qualities for digital products.

 

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Archie Dickens for his minimal waste and unisex knitwear collection. By using the knitting machine as a ‘3D printer’ Archie produced highly customized pattern pieces, which minimised waste during the production stage. The garment shapes, determined by the size and shape of the wearer, allow for total flexibility. By incorporating ideas of supplication and ambiguity Archie is allowing a timeless inclusivity to evolve within the collection and therefore also adding an element of multifunction and longevity.

 

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Catherine Taylor for her fashion collection, which aims to embody digital users and develop a deeper connectivity between themselves and their virtually-extended self while purchasing garments online. The virtual garment animations are intended for display in online shops, to allow for consumers to interact and experience the clothing before purchasing. The process will develop into a website that allows the consumer to customize the product before purchase, whilst moving around the garment and adapting the clothing. This will increase consumer’s self-expression and will increase longevity of the garment.

TED PhD Researcher to Speak at Design + Research + Society

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TED PhD researcher Miriam Ribul has been selected to present her practice-based PhD research at the PhD By Design event at the Design + Research + Society (DRS) Conference this week. Miriam’s practice-based research is at the intersection of material science and design research. She is exploring how design can offer new insights for textiles when designers intervene with materials; not in their finished form, but in the science laboratory. The aim of this PhD research is to develop a design-led paradigm for textile manufacturing in the context of a 21st century circular economy.

 

Design + Research + Society (DRS) Conference runs on the 28th – 30th June at the University of Brighton. The event celebrates the Design Research Society in its 50th Anniversary year. In connection to the DRS conference, this event will explore what the future holds for design research and how this future is being enacted through practice-based PhD design projects right now. The main questions that the conference seek to explore are:

 

  • How do current PhDs in Design, frame and address the societal problems that face us?
  • In what ways are practice-based PhDs influencing ideas about Design and working as a designer?
  • How does current practice-based design research contribute to re-shaping our lives in more responsible, meaningful, and open ways?

Mindful Manufacturing Panel Discussion

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Last week TED’s Dr. Kate Goldsworthy spoke on the topic of ‘Emerging Technology and Sustainable Design & Manufacturing’ in the Mindful Manufacturing panel discussion hosted by the Lissome at The Hub Kings Cross. The debate focused on how we can enable manufacturing communities to foster sustainability practices in production. The event is part of the Threads – Rethinking Fashion series, which explores the topic of sustainability in the apparel industry and how to support innovations for a fair and sustainable supply chain. Other panelists included Rupa Ganguli from SPINNA Cycle, Katelyn Toth-Fejel from Hre Today Here Tomorrow and Daniel Harries from the London Cloth Company.

 

The series aims to guide the audience through a different stage of the supply chain each time – sourcing of raw materials, manufacturing, and consumption – to expose the issues related to each of them, explore possible solutions and highlight best practices.

 

The first event From fibre to fabrics took place in the beginning of the year and focused on sustainable sourcing practices to procure raw materials. The panel explored how to empower farming communities by enforcing sustainable agricultural practices in the sourcing of raw materials. The final event in the series Conscious consumerism will take place on the 20 September. This session will explore how to generate a sustainable demand and empower consumers to shift toward a more conscious consumption model. Topics will include recycling and upcycling, the circular economy and in general practices that enable consumers to reduce their consumption impact.

 

The series has been created by a partnership between Impact Hub King’s Cross, Ashoka Changemakers and The Lissome.

TED PhD researcher to Speak at TRAID Event

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On Thursday next week TED PhD researcher Bridget Harvey will be speaking at the eighth #TRAIDtalks along with two other leading voices with unique viewpoints on repair in the community. She will be speaking on the landscape and politics of repair-making, from a material and social point of view.

 

The other speakers for the evening are Janet Gunter, co-founder of the Restart Project and blogger Jen Gale from My Make Do And Mend Life.  The three are part of a passionate network of active citizens making headway with the repair movement – sharing skills to benefit the community with an aim to tackle waste and counter over-consumption and working to inspire a repair revolution with wellbeing, skill-sharing, community and concern for the environment at the very root.  To revive the forgotten art of repairing things and improving relationships with ‘stuff’, this #TRAIDtalks will involve story-telling and sharing case studies to inspire positive change within communities.

 

TRAID is a fashion reuse charity working to stop clothes from being thrown away.  They turn clothes waste into funds and resources to reduce the environmental and social impacts of our textile use. You can support TRAID’s work by bringing a bag of your unwanted wearable clothes, shoes and accessories for reuse and reselling through their charity shops.

 

Spaces are limited so please book your  free ticket in advance to avoid disappointment. Suggested donation on the door: £5 to support Ziferblat, a shared community space in Old Street.

 

 

Date:
Thursday 23rd of June, 18.30-20.00

 

Location:
Ziferblat, First Floor
388 Old Street
London, EC1V 9LT

Chelsea College of Arts Undergraduate Summer Show 2016

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17 Jun – 25 Jun 2016

 

Catch the ‘up and coming’ artists and designers of tomorrow at the Chelsea College of Arts Undergraduate Summer Show, featuring work by graduating students from the following courses:

 

BA Fine Art

BA Graphic Design Communication

BA Interior & Spatial Design

FdA Interior Design

BA Textile Design

Graduate Diploma Fine Art

Graduate Diploma Interior Design

 

Private View: Friday 17th June 6pm – 9pm

 

Then open to general public:

 

Saturday 18th June – 11am – 5pm

Sunday 19th June – 11am – 5pm

Monday 20th June – 10am – 8pm

Tuesday 21st June – 10am – 8pm

Wednesday 22nd June – 10am – 8pm

Thursday 23rd June – 10am – 8pm

Friday 24th June – 10am – 8pm

Saturday 25th June – 11am – 5pm

 

Location:

Chelsea College of Arts

16 John Islip Street, London

SW1P 4JU

 

Sign up to our events mailing list to receive more information plus an invitation to the Private View.