‘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 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?

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

Materials! at WS04 Material Connexion Milano

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We’ve come back from WS04 in Milan with an overwhelming feeling that this can work.

 

This is a significant moment for Trash-2-Cash for a number of reasons: we’re almost one year in, we’ve just completed our first official sharing of written knowledge between disciplines (through 4 internal reports), Cycle A: Design has ended and Cycle B: Application has begun, but most importantly we’re really starting to understand one another and our different contributions to the project.

 

Not everything ‘worked’ at this workshop.  The methodology team has achieved a lot but we are still learning, the ‘design-driven’ approach is very new to all of us.  It’s trial and error; we use our experience and knowledge to plan appropriately, make on-the-spot changes, and introduce experimental tools as well as tried and tested ones.

 

So, as a testament to what we’ve achieved and how a project like this can work (with so many partners, with different backgrounds, languages, disciplines and cultures), we’re going to share some of the ‘tops’ (the best bits) reported by partners in Milan…

 

  • We loved using the materials samples to understand where we’re heading
    The venue for this workshop – Material Connexion Milano HQ – really allowed us to touch, to feel and discuss material properties.  One partner remarked that the location had provided an amazing ‘ambience’ for the workshop (and we could even work outside in the sunshine!)

 

  • We now understand the project ‘State of the Art’
    This has been difficult to achieve in the first year as results were still emerging and partners were still getting to grips with how their work aligned with everyone else’s.  It was the right time to dedicate some significant attention to Work Package presentations.

 

  • We can understand more about our business by hearing what challenges lie ahead for the material through the whole supply chain
    An incredible benefit of this project are the huge range of companies representing most of the material lifecycle and the great level of expertise that can be shared at each workshop – everyone is learning, even the most experienced people.

 

  • The different ways that the methodology team creates opportunities for cross-disciplinary discussions is fantastic
    Each activity is carefully designed to enable particular discussions and analysis to take place.  We reflect on the strengths and weaknesses and adapt our approach accordingly.

 

  • Learning about the fibre production process
    Fibre science and material production is really starting to make sense to designers which in turn opens up doors to creativity and will be an invaluable resource later in the project.

 

  • We are now starting to focus, connecting the dots and the details are emerging – “the project starts now!”
    After much hard work at the ‘fuzzy end’ of the process, partners are starting to see some clarity in what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve it.

 

  • Cherries!
    In the true sharing spirit of the project, our Slovenian partner brought a gift of cherries.

 

We also had tips (things to improve) which clustered around the need for the science partners to share specific results in smaller groups and in person, not only on Skype… something we will think seriously about in our preparations for WS05 in Copenhagen.       

T2C Weather Report: Preparations for Workshop 04 in Milan

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Workshop 04 (WS04) is almost upon us and Milan in May promises to be everything that Helsinki in March (WS03) was not: warm with a strong technical front moving in from the east.

 

In Helsinki we were treated to a plethora of design approaches to collaboratively add colour and context to our visions for the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) fibres.  We also saw, bubbling up on the horizon, a desire for the science and technology results and challenges to be more openly discussed, shared and addressed.  WS04 will therefore allow the technical partners the time and space necessary to get into the nitty gritty of issues like garment sourcing, fibre elongation and pretreatments… and for the designers this will be an opportunity to find out how ‘garment sourcing, fibre elongation and pretreatments’ actually affect the senso-aesthetic and performance potentials of the new T2C fibres.

 

I shudder at the thought of describing Design as the ‘weakening front’ in this weather analogy but a partial withdrawal is a necessary part of a balanced system, allowing the atmosphere to evolve before pushing back to challenge the technical direction.  In this way the role of Design in Milan will be to support the technical exchange and, perhaps for the first time, scientific and technological challenges can benefit from designerly approaches to problem solving.  The methodology team have designed activities to enable communication within disciplinary groups as well as between partners.  We will take workshop tools to help facilitate discussion, interpret ideas between disciplines, and identify the opportunities in seemingly impossible challenges.

 

WS04 is also a milestone in the T2C project as we bring together official internal insight reports (‘deliverables’ in EU speak) from four different disciplinary areas: marketing; science & technology; design and materials.  This ‘coming together’ of the different areas of project knowledge in a documentary form marks an important stage in the collaboration, taking it out of the messy brainstorm discursion of the workshop into something more considered and tangible.  Together these reports will help each person sitting in their own (disciplinary and geographical) climate to build a more complete picture of the kinds of fibres we plan to develop.  Not all of it will make sense to everyone.  And that’s the other agenda for WS04; to make it make sense, to elucidate the picture that has begun to be pieced together individually and make it vivid in collaboration; a forecast map taking into account all of the different perspectives.

 

When we return on May 27th, back in our own offices, studios and labs, we will all have a clearer picture of the design and technical ‘outlook’ for T2C fibres, and be able to begin work on developing new prototypes in earnest.

TED’s Research Assistant Featured in Today’s Metro

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The work of TED’s Research Assistant Josefin Landalv is featured in today’s Metro. The article presents graduates and students who have been selected to exhibit for UAL Now at the Pulse tradeshow. This featured stand will be presented in Launchpad, Pulse’s creative hub of fresh design talent, and will showcase fourteen new design businesses from University of the Arts students and alumni.

Josefin will be exhibiting her latest work the Lysande lampshade collection which is hand woven from Finnish paper yarn, and minimises environmental impact at all stages of production. The collection is inspired by the natural ridged characteristics of the origin of the material itself – the tree, along with minimalist Scandinavian influences and colourful Senegalese vibrancies.

Josefin graduated from Chelsea College of Arts with a BA in Textile Design in 2011, supported by the Swedish Textile Scholarship Funds (TEKO). In 2014 Josefin received the Cockpit Arts/ Clothworkers’ Foundation Award which recognises entrepreneurial spirit, creative excellence and craft skills. She works part time in TED on practice and theory projects with students and staff.

Pulse is taking place at Olympia London on the 15th – 17th of May.

Photography Alun Callender

Blue Jumper

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TED PhD researcher Bridget Harvey is exhibiting her Blue Jumper (2012) in an exhibition of “thoughtfully mended textiles” called …by a thread… at Gawthorpe Hall, until 19th June 2016.

The exhibition aims to explore ideas around mending, after a year of building renovation and repair at the hall itself. From the curator:

“While the stonework within the Hall was being mended – quite invisibly – we became interested in repair which did the opposite. We started looking for examples of mending which were visible and actually made a feature of wear and tear. We discovered that with textile items, repair can be storytelling, creative and commemorative. It can add something extra and bring new meaning and emotion to an object. It can tell us more about people, history, memories and lives.”

The artefacts exhibited in …by a thread… all display thoughtful and careful repairs, and include Karen Suzuki’s rescued teddy, Jacy Wall’s Japanase boro jacket, David Worsley’s darned jeans, Angela Maddock’s repaired Wrangler jacket and Jenni Steele’s 1930s nurse’s apron, along with Claire Wellesley-Smith’s Japanese boro bloomers and Coreen Cottam’s family quilt. Each comes with a story written by the lender, explaining why the process and act of repair is significant to them.

About Blue Jumper

‘I consider Blue Jumper, a heavily darned navy blue jumper, to be a performative artwork that I wear and work on. I found it in pristine condition, in a charity shop off Old Street, London, now Blue Jumper is heavily darned yet still worn. As environmentalist I am anti-waste, and I wear only second-hand wool. When moths ate Blue Jumper, I continued wearing it.

This garment can be considered disobedient, and it certainly has a disobedient wearer. My stitched intervention displays my politics: my slogan not shouted but darned. Blue Jumper is personal, political, active and rebellious.

I find myself resilient against pressure to buy new: I can, I will, I am, through choice and necessity, wearing, repairing and re-wearing. In celebration of resistance and autonomy, like Plutarch’s Ship of Theseus, I will keep repairing Blue Jumper until all is repair, and beyond.’

Mistra Future Fashion April Newsletter

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Since 2011 TED has been a part of the Swedish funded, cross-disciplinary research program Mistra Future Fashion. Its vision is to close the loop in fashion and clothing – enabling a systemic change in the Swedish fashion industry, leading to a sustainable development of the industry and society.  Phase 2 research began in June 2015; read about the latest developments and progress within the program in this month’s newsletter.

The Craft Readers

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TED PhD researcher Bridget Harvey and CSM research student Giorgio Salani have started a reading group, The Craft Readers at UAL.  The name is in reference to The Craft Reader, edited by Glenn Adamson (Berg, 2009), the writings in which cover many of the different areas of craft.

While Bridget and Giorgio’s material disciplines differ, their reading interests have many crossovers, and so they decide to delve into these more deeply by starting a discussion and reading group for craft researchers, or artists, designers and researchers interested in the craft discourses, inviting postgrad students from all UAL colleges and courses.

The group meets monthly and they have previously discussed texts by authors such as Julia Bryan-Wilson and Tim Ingold.  They also meet for exhibition visits and corresponding discussion sessions. The texts and visits are proposed and decided upon ahead of time by the group, and anything can be suggested.  Their aims are to develop a strong network of craft researchers within UAL, publish a proposed lexicon for craft meanings now and to build a blog site. This will be a publishing platform for those involved in The Craft Readers for reviewed position/opinion/essay pieces, exhibitions, book write ups and photo essays as well as to act as a record of what is being discussed or read.

Clara Vuletich to speak at TEDxSydney 2016

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TED’s Mistra Future Fashion PhD Researcher Clara Vuletich is one of the speakers recently announced for TEDxSydney 2016.  Her talk will use TED’s The TEN (Earley & Politowicz 2010) and focus on her ideas about changing the way we approach the challenge of ethics and sustainability in fashion and how we can all make impactful decisions about what we wear.

The event will take place in the Sydney Opera House on the 25th of May and will host a diverse selection of speakers all themed around collaboration, including: a political cartoonist; an intensive care doctor and a quantum physicist; a survivor of the 2005 London bombings; a body acceptance activist; a digital artist; and an award-winning photographer, among others. The speakers will explore topics ranging from: the ethics of human engineering, society’s last acceptable prejudice; why we need to stop “orphanage tourism”; what defines our individual identity; the international responsibility of Australia to preserve endangered species; and how people can die in a better way. Further speakers will be announced in the coming weeks.

Clara has been involved with TED as a Research Assistant and PhD Researcher since 2007, and co-developed The TEN with the authors. She is a designer, researcher and writer who explores the intersections of fashion and textile design, sustainability and well-being through creative practice. Her Mistra funded PhD completes later this year, and is titled Tranisitionary Textiles: Qualities and Values for the Transitionary Textile Design Practitioner.