FastSlow MA Textiles Day II

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5th November 2015

After a wonderful day of Slow talks by Kay Politowicz and Slow making workshops from Katherine May and Emmeline Child yesterday, today was all about speeding up.

We began by reflecting on yesterday’s experiences of Slow through words. A word which stood out, resonating from the first day into the second was ‘UNPICK’. Working with mono-materials and limited processing students had been cutting and fraying, weaving, sewing and binding parts from one piece of fabric to fasten, construct or embellish the original piece, resulting in some fascinating samples.

Changing speed further, we played a fast game with slow words, enjoying the abstract and overarching meaning of slow; ranging from slow moods to slow musicians. We also asked students to consider their own clothing, was it Fast or Slow, or both? Where was it made? How long had they owned it? Embedded meaning (gifting) was a prominent feature in garments owned longer than a year, and we considered that the design intention of a garment could be Fast while the owner’s attitude towards it was Slow.

Rosie’s talk in the afternoon introducted the concepts of biological and technological metabolisms, exploring material characteristics that lend themselves to Slow or Fast cycles; functional and emotional durability, authenticity and luxury, compostability and cyclability. 100% compostable sheets as soft as brushed cotton (sourced by Kay from a high street store) were passed between the students, demonstrating the potential performance of Fast textiles. This marked an important moment in the students’ awakening to the opportunity of Fast, to be explored in the afternoon workshop. Gabrielle also presented some useful resources for the students to explore.

The afternoon workshops completed the two day’s activities, and took a more focused and conventional design-project approach to Fast Textiles. Group A, (Kay) took TED’s ‘The Ten’ as inspiration, Group B (Rosie) looked at durability and cyclability as a starting point and Group C (Miriam) looked at different material types.

After familiarising themselves with eachother’s projects, each group chose one project to progress into a Fast product proposal, taking into account the different stages of the lifecycle.

There were some brilliant responses. One group’s proposal “Burn Me!” looked at the potential lifecycle of a candle holding a memento within, while another “Paper Stories” took the vast costume warehouses of London as a starting point. This concept involved pure white paper ‘blank’ costumes which could be decorated according to the production needs using light projections. The paper could then be either composted or recycled into new costume blanks or other paper products for the production. Another project considered the cyclability of wool, prompting a discussion about the potential processing possibilities as the fibres shorten through multiple cycles; felting, needle bonding, moulding, adding longer fibres… then to the question of colour!

These final discussions on Day 2 showed our collective learning and shared understanding emerging through our varied activities. The two-day event had itself been a collection of Slow and Fast elements constantly responding to understanding as it emerged and to changes in the feeling and atmosphere within the studio… the interplay between Fast & Slow is a human phenomenon as much as it is an industrial necessity in our sustainable future.

We look forward to welcoming the students back with their Fast/Slow reflective samples and stories at the next workshops in the next few weeks.