Meet Reima’s R&D Project Manager in the latest Trash-2-Cash Podcast

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In this podcast, Prof Becky Earley catches up with Matilda Laitila – an R&D Project Manager at cool Finnish Children’s brand Reima. For more than 70 years Reima has been supplying cosy clothing encouraging people to play outdoors, no matter the weather.

 

Through projects like Trash-2-Cash Reima intends to continue being the world’s leading expert in outdoor clothing for children. It’s also important for T2C to have industry partners who are at the ‘coal face’ of performance wear, to make sure fibres we develop in the project will be commercially viable in that sector.

 

Founded in 1944, there was a shortage of raw materials, so the first Reima products (women’s work wear) were manufactured out of old army snowsuits. As performance is such an important part of outdoor fashion design, there’s always been a focus on material breakthroughs at Reima – Enstex material was introduced, then followed by Reimatec. Matilda’s job is to study new materials that will help them meet their goals of a waterproof, abrasion resistant and comfortable garment.

 

Reima also has pretty inspiring pillars of responsibility around sustainability, covering material and product development, the supply chain, and future recycling systems.

 

Matilda talks about all of this in the latest Trash-2-Cash podcast, available on iTunes and Soundcloud now. 

Meet Circular Transitions Keynote Speaker Sophie Thomas

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Graphic and communication designer Sophie Thomas has been working in the fields of sustainable design and material process for over 15 years. She is the Founding Director for Thomas Matthews and Director of Circular Economy at the RSA. Her long term interest in sustainability and materials has led her to share her experience of closed loop thinking with other designers, and in 2012 she founded The Great Recovery, a programme to build capacity and understanding of circular design in the materials supply chain through practical exploration.

 

What are you working on at the moment?
I have gone back into my communication design practice and am beginning to work with businesses who want to ‘be circular’ but are unsure how to start and what it actually means.

I am also developing ideas around how designers can develop Ocean Friendly Design, specifically tackling marine plastic through active programmes. Both these pieces are continuing my conviction that seeing is believing and the way to lean this stuff can be kicked off through kinaesthetic learning. As Great Recovery participant Rich Gilbert said: You can read blogs and reports all you like, but you will never forget the smell of a landfill site.

 

What will you share at the conference that people haven’t heard before?
I will be sharing the developed methodology of how you can design a circular business and how to understand which of the circular design models you should be designing to. We have been developing the circular economy edition of the double diamond.

 

Tell us about what you are excited to bring back from the conference?
For me it’s all about people, their projects and research and networking. When I meet a bright spark with a ‘crazy but it might just work’ idea I get very excited and go through my mental rotadex to see who I can connect them with.

Meet Elin Larsson – Sustainability Director at Filippa K & Circular Transitions Keynote Speaker

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Mini Bio
Elin Larsson has been the Sustainability Director at Filippa K since 2011. But she’s been with Filippa K since 1996 in a vast range of roles, so the responsible ethos of the stylish brand runs deep for her.

Having experience in logistics and supply chain management, sales, and project management gives her unique insight into how business functions will need to go from disconnected to connected in a circular economy. She’s currently working on strategies to demonstrate that environmental and commercial sustainability can comfortably coexist.

Elin also has qualifications in Sustainable Transition (exploring the crossover between politics, the economy, and environment) from Jönköping University in Sweden.

 

What are you working on at the moment?
It’s an exciting time. We’re at the beginning of a long journey to fundamentally redesign the conditions, rules, and expectations for a ‘responsible’ fashion industry and right now my team is testing new models that fit within the circular economy  – or as we at Filippa K say – our new business models respect ‘planetary boundaries’.

Our industry must change, that fact is indisputible. Either you ignore that…or you become part of the transformation and that is what we have chosen. We are highly motivated and determined to succeed.

 

What will you share at the conference that people haven’t heard before?
Our mission is to help our users build a sustainable and curated wardrobe. That seems to many like an overwhelming challenge, but I’ll be sharing how our initiatives are guiding us towards new business models and solutions that we hope will lead industry best practice.

 

Tell us about what you are excited to bring back from the conference?
It is a big system change that is needed, and organisations can’t expect to achieve success by working alone. We’re hoping to inspire others with our presentation, but also to see how others are approaching this big challenge and hopefully bring that inspiration home with us. We all need to work together to drive big change. I look forward to meeting with you all at the conference!

Social Innovation in Fashion

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5th– 7th September

 

One of our current PhD researchers Emmeline Child has just presented at the International Conference for Social Innovation ISIRC2016 in Glasgow. Here she was presenting how her methods in fashion design, have led to Social Innovation in the Industry. Emmeline was drawing from her experience as a practitioner and through her PhD research, which is looking to develop design led models that can be implemented to increase levels of upcycling within the fashion industry.

 

Presenting in a predominantly business and management based environment places our fashion and textile design research at the forefront of this changing global market.  Showcasing these ‘design thinking’ strategies demonstrates how beneficial the work of designers and practitioners can be in the workplace today.

 

Emmeline notes that;

 

‘The impact of a clear vision can plant the seed of change to make a more sustainable future. Through cross-fertilization and careful nurturing, the impact can be wider than anything you initially intended. ‘The path to a more beautiful world can come from vast plans and small gestures… as long as the strategy bears the needs of future visitors in mind’ (McDonough and Braungart, 2015, p.180). It can be insightful to seek outside the social innovation paradigms for tested examples that can inform models for success in the future.’

Discovering new Islands: preparations for Workshop 05

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This reflective blogpost is written by one of TED’s Trash-2-Cash Post-Doctorial Researcher’s Dr. Rosie Hornbuckle about the process of getting ready for next week’s workshop session in Copenhagen.

 

Each Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project workshop brings new challenges for the methodology team.  The process of planning the activities which form the basis of the design-science interactions is in itself an experimental collaborative design process.  We begin by sharing ideas around some key objectives for the workshop, we identify current challenges that we need to address and try to come up with appropriate ways to do this in the workshop using methods and tools from our collective experience.  Sometimes this means devising experimental workshop sessions, other times all that is needed is a conventional PowerPoint presentation or an open discussion.  And then occasionally – to our great relief – a situation arises where we can repeat activities that we know have worked in previous T2C workshops (WS).

 

WS05 in Copenhagen is based on one of these ‘tried and tested’ activities. Julie Hornix from design agency VanBerlo, recalled a session that Material Connection had prepared for WS01 in Stockholm, way back in September 2015 (timely that it is reappearing exactly one year on).  In its first appearance the session was described as a ‘marketplace’ with scientists each having a ‘stall’ to share the different fibre technologies they would be developing in the project.  Our methodology team recalled that it had been a particularly effective and engaging way to share knowledge, introducing designers to the materials they would be helping to develop, using samples, videos and diagrams instead of scientific datasheets or dense papers.

 

Right now, we are at a Milestone in the project where Fibre Prototype 1 has been produced and so, once again our materials scientists have significant new knowledge to share with all of the partners.  Differently, this time, designers also have work to present: new design briefs and Concept Areas have been developed from all of our scenario work, and in Copenhagen our design and manufacturing partners will be choosing which Concept Areas they want to work on in more depth.

 

This time instead of a marketplace we have decided that Islands are an appropriate place for interdisciplinary discovery: groups will visit each island in turn to unearth the newly formed gems of scientific endeavor and design ideas.

 

On our Science Islands visitors will be able to see the first scientific results demonstrated through fibre samples with the best scientists in their field on hand to answer probing questions.

 

On our Design Islands visitors with discover material and product samples showing cutting edge design in three different types of application. Leading textile and industrial designers will provoke, translate and ideate to develop Concept Areas through discussion. They will be on hand to respond to questions from the scientists and manufacturers about how these design visions align with technical material challenges.

 

WS05 promises to be an exciting moment for all of the T2C partners: the methodology team get to use a repeatable workshop design; the scientists get to present their first results and glimpse the types of products their fibres could become; manufacturers can start to realise the types of textile structures and finishes that they will be able to test; designers will finally get something tangible and meaningful to work with: real materials and actual product concepts.

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?

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.

A day in the life of the Trash-2-Cash suitcase: reflections on WS03 Helsinki

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Most suitcases are destined for a life of seclusion, at the back of wardrobes, on luggage stands in hotel rooms, in the bellies of buses and planes… the conveyer in baggage reclaim must be liberating by comparison.

But not our suitcase; he has a very special vocation.

Last Wednesday he set out with an important cargo, a suite of T2C things carefully curated to build our sense of community, bring us closer together through our common behaviours, understandings and appreciations, and support us as we continue to create a common language, communicating both with each other and our wider audiences.

Collectively I guess you would call these things ‘design tools’.

These were not the only ‘tools’ making a journey to Helsinki that day.  In a brilliantly orchestrated schedule we were treated to 15 tools and methods from six partners, all with a specific purpose in helping us to revise future scenarios for T2C fibres and give direction to the fibre development.  Some were established methods and some experimental but many were unfamiliar to the majority and all were new for materials R&D.  Many of these tools were brought by design partners, but there were also some prepared by scientists.

The effect was manifold, enabling social cohesion within the group, confidence building, co-learning, aiding communication and trust, furthering individual and collective understanding of the project and tasks, presenting and co-creating knowledge for specific project outcomes.

Moreover, we were able to locate our regenerated fibres within the future worlds they might inhabit, connect our materials development to real and emerging issues and begin to share our hopes for how our fibres could positively influence people rather than just replacing ‘bad’ materials with better ones.  From all of these different angles we viewed the potential for our work.  Our discussions progressed collectively (and not without debate) and by the end of day 2 we were able to come to more of a consensus on the direction for fibre development than we could have imagined or hoped for three months ago.

There was a great deal of positive feedback on this process from all participants, but there was also a desire (among designers and scientists) to discuss in more detail the very real technical challenges, and to have the opportunity to share early results.  Design is after all sabotaging a very familiar – and in many ways successful – materials R&D process which has a much clearer route from action to results.  We are all learning.

The spirit with which the T2C materials researchers have embraced these new methods has been inspiring and as we near the end of the messy ideation phase of the project the technical partners can perhaps look forward to more familiar processes in the near future.  Will this mean that the role of our designers will change within the workshop setting?  How will design methods and tools enhance or disrupt this most logical and linear of processes?

And what of the Trash-2-Cash case?  He is back at UAL awaiting WS04; but in April he is off to Barcelona to be part of an industry innovation event. In May he will be restocked with useful tools and resources and accompany us to Milan… where else but in Material ConneXion Italia HQ.

 

Making Circular Transitions by Professor Becky Earley

Being interviewed at the Awards ceremony wearing my 2012 Margiela for H&M dress with a beautiful beaded handmade butterfly necklace borrowed from Clara Francis Jewellery
Being interviewed at the Awards ceremony wearing my 2012 Margiela for H&M dress with a beautiful beaded handmade butterfly necklace borrowed from Clara Francis Jewellery

2016 began with a quiet January at home, thinking about fashion textiles and circles, cycles, loops and spirals. It’s all happening with the circular economy right now – and whilst this has been building for an awfully long time, it finally feels as if some real changes are about to take place. It also feels like a lot of different projects are finally coming together…

 

Towards Global Change

Since last summer I have been on the judging panel for the H&M Conscious Foundation Global Change Awards. Just before I went to India I submitted my final selection of five winners, and was so pleased to see that when I got back 4 out of the 5 right had made it into the final line up! The winners spanned new fibres – made from paper, textile and citrus fruit waste, as well as algae – and microbes that eat polyester enabling new yarn to be created. There was also a concept for an online platform that connected textile waste from industry to potential users. (This was my favourite – it’s too easy to forget that we need more systems designed to aid the flow of existing resources, as well as the invention of new materials).

The award ceremony was a two-day extravaganza in Stockholm, with event at KTH and the Town Hall. The stair case that the winners came down is the one that the Nobel Prize winners come down. They were a great group of entrepreneurs – it was so exciting to see their ideas get this attention and support.

The keynote speaker for the award ceremony was David Roberts, from Singularity University (also a decorated Special Agent). I have great reservations about the massive investment in technology that goes across around the world, when problems seem to be so much about people, politics and broken systems. But his talk was really enlightening – I was thrilled to hear about exponential growth and technologies coming online, especially the projections he showed around solar power. (He succinctly explained the dip we experience early on with new technologies, where after an initial excitement we begin to doubt them). He brings the talk to a conclusion by showing us two animal films from You Tube, which echo his points about human nature. By joining together in collective action we are strong enough to remove danger from our community. (Oh, and, cat’s are mean…) I am not how well he relates exponential growth and the power of the bystander – it seems to hang in the air at the end. But watch the talk here and decide for yourself.

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The judging panel in conversation on stage at Stockholm City Hall, from left: Ellis Rubenstein, CEO of New York Academy of Sciences; Amber Valetta, entrepreneur and activist; Professor Michael Braungart, co-author of Cradle-to-Cradle; Professor Johan Rockstrom, Stockholm Resilience Centre; and me…

Meeting the other judges and Jo Confino (ex Guardian now Huffington Post) was super interesting. I enjoyed the company and conversation of Ellis Rubenstein from NYAS very much. Also Michael Braungart (C2C) and Friederike von Wedel-Parlow (ESMOD), and the great dinner chat whilst seated next to Karl-Johan Persson. I nipped out between the seven vegetarian courses to record this little podcast… with Natalia. (I come in after 23 minutes.)

Can’t finish this report without highlighting the overall winners – by public vote – our Trash 2 Cash collaborators, VTT! Congratulations to them for putting their ideas out there to multiple funders and really pushing their material innovations.

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Watch the winners interviews here

 

Fast Talking, Hybrid Style

Before all the excitement with the awards kicked off I gave a short 8-minute pitch at Mode Hybrid, Hybrid Talks. Hosted by Mistra Future Fashion, Misum, and Stockholm School of Economics, these micro talks focus on the collaborative potential of ‘science fiction, to science fact to science fabulous‘! (To quote the dynamic founder of Hybrid, Annika Shelley!)

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Hybrid Talking with Martin Johnson (left), Eduardo Escobedo, Susy Paisley and Annika Shelley

As Hybrid drinks came to an end I did this TV interview. Fashionomics 2 was a conversation around sustainability hosted by Ulf Skarin, Creative Director at the Veckans Affärer and Elin Frendberg, CEO of the Swedish Fashion Council with Eduardo Escobedo, Founder of the RESP – an organisation that brings together luxury brands and sustainability, and Annika Shelly, Founder of Hybrid Talks.

 

Stockholm Shirts: Making Change

When not TALKING, I am happy to be quietly thinking, making and writing. Whilst I love to talk (I think you realise that after the above!) the pleasure of silently making is essential to thinking clearly. Without making things, and writing ideas down, the whole process just isn’t complete. Whilst I used to rely on making alone to research ideas, I am now fully signed up to the rich experience of being an academic who uses many forms of exploration. It’s not just making, writing and presenting/talking. It’s also exhibition curation and film/animation script writing. When these approaches all work together, I find myself more able to deal with the complexity of sustainability, and hold on to the pleasure of creativity, whilst also finding ways to build communities and audiences.

For this Stockholm trip, I took a day to work into some second hand H&M shirts I had collected from Sweden. I used an old lace dress I found in Anxi Clothing Market in Shanghai in 2013, to create a heat photogram image on the polyester shirts. The mix of Chinese clothing and H&M product enabled me to think more about the disconnect between fashion textile designers and consumers and the industrial manufacturing processes inherent in speedy clothing lines. I am not unaware of H&M production being amongst the fastest in the world – I have questioned them about this myself. They believe in working in emerging economies to contribute to growth there with their business, and to do that in the best ways possible. They argue if they weren’t producing there, things would be much worse for the local economies and lifestyles.

The Stockholm Shirts are about continuing to think about how big business can use textile design approaches to create sustainable social innovation production models.

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Making the print template for the Stockholm Shirts from a Chinese lace dress found in Shanghai

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Stockholm Shirts, February 2016

 

Circular Transitions Conference

Finally, for this first post of 2016, I want to flag up our our Mistra Future Fashion Circular Transitions conference in November 2016, at Tate Britain. It has been years in the planning, so we are excited to have the chance to get the world’s design researchers together for two days to fully explore fashion textile design and the emerging circular economy. Abstracts are due in to us by 25th March 2016, so get your ideas together and come and join us for what promises to be a really valuable experience for a wide range of stakeholders – you, the trustees of the future of design and circular fashion textiles…

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www.circulartransitions.org