TED’s Year in Review

While our new TED website is being developed, this blog has been the place for all our news and research work. Before we finish for the year, we have drawn up a Review of our year and would like to share the highlights with you here:


The highlight of the year for TED has been the launch and dissemination of a set of sustainable design strategies for textile designers that TED has been working on for several years. TED’s TEN were refined and tested during Becky Earley’s Worn Again / Upcycling Textiles AHRC project that finished in late 2009, and this year has seen the strategies disseminated and promoted to a wide range of audiences including design students, educators and designers in industry.

TED’s TEN has been presented and integrated into several consultancy projects that Becky Earley has worked on this year including to designers within the Gucci Group in March; to small independent textile companies as part of Future Factory in Nottingham in April; to staff of the PPR Group (who own fashion brands including Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Puma) in May and to designers from leading Swedish brands at the Sustainable Fashion Academy in Stockholm. The set of strategies are also the core element in TED’s contribution to two different Swedish consortiums that are bidding for MISTRA funding for sustainable textile projects, and will play a central role in a new consultancy package being developed with the UAL’s Textile Futures Research Centre’s enterprise arm.

International Impact:

TED’s work was again taken to an international level this year with the TED team delivering five days of our Interconnected Design Thinking Workshops to design students at Weisenssee College in Berlin in April; Becky Earley and Emma Neuberg delivering two separate series of lectures and workshops to Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Tel Aviv; Becky Earley talking on the panel of the Paris Ethical Fashion Show in September; Clara Vuletich visiting UTS in Sydney and RMIT in Melbourne, Australia with a series of workshops and lectures in October, and Kay Politowicz talking about TED at the Museo del Tessuto in Prato, Italy in November.

Research projects:

Projects initiated by TED this year included Prof. Kay Politowicz’s Summer Debate in July, where a panel of four speakers were asked to argue for and against the motion that ‘Sustainable Design in the Real World is just an Educator’s Fantasy…’, with the audio recordings and transcriptions subsequently being made available on the TED website.

TED also initiated a new CCW scheme for one-day practice-based research workshops. The first was called D(urability) Day, where TED members explored garment durability concepts using print techniques on old, unworn garments. This day saw the development of a short and effective model for ‘quick and dirty’ practice-based research that TED will continue to develop and explore.

TED was also invited to be part of a research project led by CCW Fine Art research group Critical Practice called Parade in the Chelsea Parade Ground. TED staged a ‘Wardrobe Disclosure’ stall to engage members of the public in conversation about the challenge to designers to slow down / divert the stream of fashion garments to landfill, by exploring emotional attachments to clothes.


New work from TED members was created for a ground-breaking exhibition of no-waste fashion at the Science Museum in London, Trash Fashion: Designing out Waste, that also showcased the innovative work of our fellow Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) members including Suzanne Lee from CSM and Sandy Black from LCF. TED members work was also shown in reTHINK! Eco textiles at the Audax Textile Museum in Tilburg, Holland.

Pieces from Becky Earley’s Top 100 ten year ‘slow fashion’ project have also been collected by the Museum at FIT, and shown in their Eco Fashion: Going Green exhibition in New York, and on tour throughout the UK in the Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution show.

Clara Vuletich created new work as part of the AA2A Artists In Residence scheme at Chelsea exploring how digital textile printing can re-invent quilting and patchwork techniques, that was shown at Camberwell Space in July.

Papers & Publications:

A paper by TED members Becky Earley. Kate Goldsworthy and Clara Vuletich was published in Future Textile Environments, (Brink, R. and Ullrich, M., HAW College Hamburg) and work from TED members has been published in two key design texts this year: Eco Fashion (Laurence King), by Sass Brown and Textile Futures: Fashion, Design and Technology (Berg) by Bradley Quinn.


Emma Neuberg, Clara Vuletich and Becky Earley were all invited to speak at the Slow Textiles Conference at the Stroud International Textile Festival in May, the first conference of its kind to explore what ‘Slow’ means for textile designers, with the audio recording and transcriptions being made available via TED’s website. Other speaking engagements included Becky Earley at the Crafts Council’s Craft Rally in London and Sheffield, and Kay Politowicz at the University of Bolton in July


Along with textile researchers from London College of Fashion and Central St Martin, TED members are part of the Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) that has recently become one of the six research centres within the University. Becky Earley is currently the Acting Director of TFRC and has been busy planning some exciting new events and projects for 2011.

TFRC’s four research strands have been announced and these include: Design/Science Textiles; Digital Textiles; Sustainable Textiles and Identity & Reflection. While up to this point, most members have been involved in their own individual research, this new structure is encouraging new collaborative research that will exist at the intersection of some or all of these themes. TED’s research work will obviously fall under the Sustainable Textiles theme, and our TED’s TEN is currently being developed into several consultancy packages for textile companies.

Sustainability in the Curriculum:

Closer to home, TED has been integrating our sustainable design thinking into the student curriculum with several student projects led by Prof. Kay Politowicz. Inside/Outside was a third year BA and MA project sponsored by Burberry, where students were asked to uncover and revive vintage materials and historic processes that were current at the time of Millbank Prison (the site of Chelsea College by the Thames), and to connect them to new, (often digital) sustainable textile processes and innovations of tomorrow.

Another student project was Glocalisation, for second year BA students which was supported by on-line furniture retailer made.com and in collaboration with Monkey Biz, a South African AIDS charity.

TED’s work continues to also feed into the student curriculum through the IMPACT lifecycle lecture series for first year BA and MA students and the Green Textiles elective for second year students.

TED’s PhD Students:

We now have a group of four students based at TED: Kate Goldsworthy is in the final writing up stage and is now course co-ordinator for CSM’s MA Textile Futures course; Jan Ballie, our TFRC scholarship student, has just completed her second year and her literature review (RF3); and our two new students this year are Matty Aspinall and Susan Noble.

The new TED website will be launching in early 2011, with a range of digital resources from many of TED’s research projects and events, including audio recordings and transcriptions of talks and project summary reports that will begin to map and define the unique practice-based approach of our research team.

We have several exciting events and projects planned for 2011, and the first will be a one-day summit on Slow, co-curated by Becky Earley and Helen Carnac, in partnership with Craftspace and ArtQuest. Watch this space for more information in the New Year and have a wonderful festive season from all of us here at TED.

TFRC launches as University Research Centre

Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) has recently become one of the University’s six Research Centres and it includes textile researchers from Chelsea/Camberwell/Wimbledon, London College of Fashion and Central St Martins.

Becky Earley is currently the Acting Director of TFRC and Becky has been busy planning some exciting new events and projects. The launch of the Centre’s new status was last week where members met to start workshopping the Centre’s new research themes. These themes are: Design/Science Textiles; Digital Textiles; Sustainable Textiles and the fourth theme Identity & Reflection. The new diagram shown above, is a visualisation of the themes and how they may overlap. While up to this point, most members have been involved in their own individual research, this new structure is encouraging new collaborative research that will exist at the intersection of some or all of these themes.
There is also a new blog called TFRC Connections, which explores and celebrates the connections between TFRC members work. Watch this space for more news about some of the new TFRC project’s happening in the New Year.

Clara Vuletich was at the Ethical Fashion Forum’s Excellence in Ethical Fashion Training Day last week as an ‘expert’ in sourcing sustainable materials. Clara saw several different independent fashion companies and designers who were looking for advice and guidance.
It turned out that the most helpful advice Clara could give was a copy of TED’s TEN Design Strategies. There is often an assumption in the ethical fashion world that fashion and textile designer’s already have the design skills needed, and all they need guidance with is issues such as marketing, sourcing and finding the right production supply chain. However, here at TED we would argue that the complexity of sustainability requires designers to work with a range of interconnected design strategies that can leverage real innovation and change and that are not just limited to the ‘hard’ aspects such as materials and processes.
This may include awareness and understanding of how service design approaches could be helpful, or how to design in the potential for upcycling at the end of the garment’s life. This is where our TED’s TEN comes in.
While TED has been developing this set of design strategies for several years now, there have been other recent attempts to offer strategies or ‘toolkits’ for designers to navigate sustainability. There is a set of values for slow fashion developed by Slow Fashion Forward in Sweden, and the Slowlab with Alistair Fuad-Luke have developed a set of strategies to design ‘slowly’. Finally, there is a Toolkit for Designers who want to learn how to be Social Innovators from Ezio Manzini’s organisation DESIS.
Most of these , are quite broad and conceptual and not specifically related to a textile and fashion context. We believe TED’s TEN fills this gap.

While the Burberry sustainable textile student project has been going on with our third year textile students, Prof. Kay Politowicz has also been busy co-ordinating another live student project with an ethical agenda.

Second year textile students have been hard at work on a project called Glocalisation, in conjunction with online furniture retailer made.com and African Aids charity Monkey Biz, who create wonderful hand beaded objects. The term ‘glocalisation’ is a combination of the words ‘local’ and ‘global’, and the students were asked to look at their local area or place and record and explore the colours that capture this place.

A selection of the students colour palettes and design mood boards were then chosen by speciality beaders Monkeybiz in South Africa, who created a series of beaded panels based on the designs. These panels will then be digitally scanned and printed as artworks, which will be sold on made.com’s website, with a percentage of sales going back to the Monkeybiz charity.

There were quite a few people involved in the whole process of this project and it was wonderful to see how this collaborative nature was revealed through the final beaded designs. The beaders had interpreted the student’s designs and colour palettes so originally and vibrantly and we look forward to seeing the final digital prints.

See a mention of the project in Design Week here and in My Daily.com here.

Artist/designer in the digital textile department

The Artists in Residence Scheme (AA2A) here in the textiles department at Chelsea is continuing this year, and the lucky artist/designer is Tope Tijani, a 2009 graduate.

Tope specialised in digital textiles and she will be working with the digital textile printer developing a new body of work. Tope currently produces an accessories range of digitally printed laminated bags and purses which are sold in boutiques in London and Paris.

Another artist on the scheme, in the fine art department, is Jonathon Baldock, who interestingly uses mixed media materials including fabrics to create sculptures.

Back in November 2009, TED member Clara Vuletich gave a presentation on environmental impacts of the lifecycle of textiles for a student project at London College of Fashion called Fashioning the Future , where fashion students were given the brief to re-design the uniforms for the student nurses at Kings College.The project is now complete with the winning design being made up into prototypes.

The designers had to consider several factors when they were re-designing the uniform, including comfort and ease of movement and how the nurses would be washing and caring for the garment. Nurses have to wash their uniforms at 60c after each wear for health and safety reasons, and as there is strong evidence that suggests most environmental impacts of a garment lifecycle is in the use phase, this was a key factor for the designer’s to consider.

The winning design by Pandora Howard-Griffin, included the introduction of stretch jersey panels to the sides and back of tunics and dresses and removal of collars and introduction of soft bias bindings to eliminate chafing.

Pandora’s extensive textile research led her to propose the introduction of bamboo fibre as it draws away moisture, breathes up to four times more effectively than cotton, has naturally occuring antibacterial properties and can be produced in a manner which has lower energy use impact. (Although, the environmental credentials of the production of bamboo is starting to be questioned and there are several students at the University of Cambridge, researching this, some of which can be found here).

However, this fabric has not yet been tested and approved for use in in the UK healthcare system, although it has been adopted by states in the USA and by Singapore. Consequently, approved light-weight polycotton fabrics were substituted for bamboo fabrics in the prototype uniforms produced.

The garments are undergoing limited trials in partner hospitals where nursing students are on placements.

Kay Politowicz has been in Italy at the Museo del Tessuto, a textile museum in Prato speaking at a conference on the creative use of textile archives. The conference was the final event in the Eurotex ID project, which aimed to enhance the European textile identity.

The first stage of the project has seen the digitising of textile archives from Prato and several museums in Spain, providing details of the local, specific production processes and techniques of each piece. The next stage involved fashion design students who were allowed access to the textile archives and through a series of creative workshops, were encouraged to re-interpret the samples for new designs.The student’s designs were also on show at the event.

Kay’s presentation to the symposium audience showcased TED’s Design Stories, which visualises TED’s TEN Design Strategies for sustainability.

This project is a great example of a way to encourage designer’s to find inspiration and new ways of thinking and making through historical archive pieces, and ties in with one of TED’s Design Strategy, ‘Look Back to Look Forward’.

TED members at the V & A

TED members Melanie Bowles and Emma Neuberg have been busy over at the V & A, running an exciting workshop programme called Fast/Slow. Inspired by the current exhibition, Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes, the course encourages participants to explore hands-on making techniques combined with using the latest digital technologies, including digital textile printing.

Mel recently gave a presentation to the participants titled ‘Digital Textiles Now’, focusing on the growth of the pro-amateur and home grown designer who are creating their own textiles by utilising local digital textile print bureaus, in turn revitalizing local textile industries.

For some of the results from the course, see Emma’s Slow Textiles blog.

We are always keen to stay in touch with our alumni, and fascinated to see the way our teachings about sustainable design thinking have an impact once our graduates go out into the world.

One recent graduate, Bridget Harvey, not only comes back regularly to TED to intern with us, but she is also organising the programme of talks at the Wapping Project’s bookshop.

Bridget wrote her dissertation on Slow Design in 2009, (the abstract will soon be available to read on our new website coming soon!), and she developed her own ‘manifesto’ for what this means for textile production. It is currently being read and referenced by this years final year students.

Bridget has organised for a fellow Chelsea alumni, Tamasyn Gambell to speak about her work at The Wapping Project Bookshop on 2nd December. Tamasyn is a printed textile designer who works with ethically sourced materials, using environmentally sound processes to create bold accessories and stationary, that defy the stereotypical “eco aesthetic”. Using her experience working for large fashion companies and living and travelling the world, she draws on a myriad of influences to upcycle fabrics through print.

Amongst her other products are up-cycled luxury scarves and home textiles, and her company also supports a welfare project in Kerala.

Tickets are £5 and can be booked by emailing shop@thewappingproject.com

Burberry project

Here at TED we have been busy continuing to embed all our sustainable design thinking into the student’s studio practice. Our latest project that tries out new ways to do this is called Inside/Outside, and is being sponsored and supported by Burberry.

The link between Chelsea College and Burberry is our location – we share the same neighbourhood by the Thames river at Millbank, and Burberry have been staging their twice-yearly fashion shows in our Parade Ground since 2009. In the 18th and 19th century, the site of the college used to be the infamous Millbank Prison, designed using Bentham’s ‘Panoptican’ building design.

The project encourages students to uncover and revive vintage materials and historic processes that were current at the time of Millbank Prison, and to connect them to new, (often digital) textile processes and innovations of tomorrow.

Christopher Bailey, the Creative Director of Burberry has been to see the students and was keen to make the link between Burberry’s heritage and his current design approach.

The programme includes a whole series of guest lecturers and workshops from people including Helen Carnac, curator of Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution, new TED PhD student Maddy Aspinall who will teach the traditional technique of smocking and Zane Berzina, visiting lecturer from Weissensee College in Berlin, who specialises in textiles and soft technologies.

Watch the project as it unfolds on the student blog.with regular reflections and thoughts from the TED researchers.