Meet Circular Transitions Keynote Speaker Ed Van Hinte

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Ed van Hinte is a Dutch engineer, design critic, writer and educator with a degree in Industrial Design and Engineering from the University of Technology in Delft.

He has written and published many books some of which concern the consequences of diminishing material production and consumption. Some relevant titles are:

  • product lifespan extension in Eternally Yours
  • mass reduction in Lightness Studios.

He has delivered workshops on design and architecture all over the world, and in December 2014 received the Pierre Bayle lifetime achievement award for design criticism. Ed is involved in design research at DRS22 in The Hague, a multidisciplinary research facility for young designers that he started with graphic designer Renate Boere.

 

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on a few projects right now:

  1. I’m continuing my exploration into the design of a lightweight standard house
  2. I’m researching ways to cultivate the value of used fleece, with fashion designer Conny Groenewegen
  3. And my main focus is writing a brand new book (working title Designing Lightness) as part of a campaign to understand lightweight structures, together with Adriaan Beukers, Erik Wong and Nai010 Publishers

 

What will you share at the conference that people haven’t heard before?

Controversially I’m going to say that circularity is not the right thing to aim for. I’ll convince you that we should focus on cultivating value over time, and minimising the flow of materials instead. Come to my talk to learn more!

 

Tell us about what you are excited to bring back from the conference?

Hopefully I will learn about projects showing the way to both a richer and a much more modest future civilisation

Meet Circular Transitions Keynote Speaker Cyndi Rhoades

 

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Cyndi is the founder/CEO of Worn Again and has led the business from its early ‘upcycling’ days to its’ focus as a technology innovation company.

With a vision to eradicate textile waste, she has worked on a series of ground-breaking products and projects with world leading designers and global brands, including Virgin Atlantic, Eurostar, Virgin Balloon Flights, M&S and most recently, a collaboration with H&M and Kering’s Sports and Lifestyles brand, Puma.

In addition to circular economies Cyndi is also passionate about canal boating & car boot sales.

 

What are you working on at the moment?
We are in development of a textile to textile recycling technology that can recapture polyester and cotton from end of use textiles to be reintroduced into the beginning of the supply chain as new. The technology will provide a crucial enabler for the industry to transition to a circular resource model.

 

What will you share at the conference that people haven’t heard before?
I’ll be talking about how a new generation of technologies achieve the biggest technological advance the industry has seen since the Industrial Revolution.

 

Follow Cindy at Twitter @cyndirhoades 

Circular Transitions – The Big Themes

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The Circular Transition Conference is fast approaching and this series of blogposts will keep you up date with the latest news and developments as the final pieces of the event fall into place. The conference, which is part of a research project for the Mistra Future Fashion consortium will be the first global event to bring together academic and industry research for fashion textiles for the circular economy.

During the coming weeks we will introduce the four keynote speakers Cyndi Rhoades (Worn Again), Sophie Thomas (Thomas Matthews, The Great Recovery), Elin Larsson (Filippa K) and Ed van Hinte (Lightness Studio/ DRS22). The speakers will focus on the three sub themes of the conference: Materials, Models and Mindsets. We will also start announcing the exhibitors who are a group of pioneers demonstrating the latest innovative materials, processes and design models in this field.

Enabling Research to Change

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Our Swedish project partner Mistra Future Fashion has opened up a new funding opportunity;  Enabling Research to Change. It’s a call for new ideas that contribute to a systemic change of the fashion industry, making it circular and more sustainable. 60, 000 are offered to support new ideas for enabling research to change.

 

The clock is ticking for the transformation needed for the fashion industry to become sustainable. Efforts to find breakthrough ways to change are right now happening around the world. Most prominent researchers are engaged, supported by front running fashion companies. To stretch further – this is a call for additional breakthrough ideas that are worth being further explored! Mistra Future Fashion offers 60,000 € to support new ideas for enabling research to change.

 

Mistra Future Fashion is one the biggest research programs in the world and consists of a consortium of researchers and fashion industry actors that act towards the change – on how to design for circular economy, how to promote a more sustainable circular supply chain, how to enable user to act sustainable, and how to increase recycling. We now call for new additional ideas and partners that can strengthen our efforts on our journey to enable a systemic change of fashion industry.

 

Key focus areas that will be prioritized are “Digitalization”, “Implementation” and “Scale-up of Services”.

 

Deadline 30th of November 2016

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.

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

Hybrid Talks 2016 – “Unlikely bedfellows: When opposites morph into spectacular sustainability.”

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Next week Professor Rebecca Earley will speak about ‘Why we should make fast fashion even faster’ at Hybrid Talks at Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden. The global set of speakers will present micro talks followed by Q&A.

Date: Monday 8 Feb, 2016
 16.30 (sharp) – 18.00
Place: Stockholm School of Economics, Sveavägen 65 (Entrance: Bertil Ohlins gata 5), room: KAW

Partners: Wicked Communications, Stockholm School of Economics/MISUM, MISTRA Future Fashion, Swedish Fashion Council

The event is currently sold out but keep checking the website for last minute cancelations.

 

PROGRAMME:

 Welcome by MISUM, Mistra Future Fashion and Wicked Communications

 

Hybrid Talk No. 1:
“Why we should make fast fashion even faster” Professor Rebecca Earley, University of the Arts, London.
Professor Rebecca Earley is a Professor in Sustainable Textile and Fashion Design and Director of the University of London’s prestigious Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC). She is part of Mistra Future Fashion and is a Global Change Award judge, Conscious Foundation, H&M and has worked with PUMA and VF Corporation in the UK and US.

 

Hybrid Talk No. 2:
“The role of luxury in sustainable fashion”
Eduardo Escobedo, RESP, Geneva.

Eduardo Escobedo is Executive Director and Founder of RESP (Responsible Ecosystem Sourcing Platform). RESP founding members include Chanel, Armani, Burberry, Mulberry, Bulgari, LVMH. Prior to founding RESP, Eduardo has worked with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development (ICTSD), the Mexican Ministry of the Economy, and General Electric.
 

Hybrid Talk No. 3:
“Creating change in production with monks” Martin Johnson, Rajda, Kolkata/Stockholm.
Martin Johnson is the Global Key Account Director for the Rajda Group, an Indian leather accessories producer based in Kolkata. Rajda works with many of the top Swedish and international fashion brands.

 

Hybrid Talk No. 4:
“More than just pretty pictures – Textiles and the conservation of endangered species” Dr. Susanna Paisley-Day, University of Kent, Canterbury.
Dr Susanna Paisley is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) of the University of Kent in Canterbury and a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

 

Hybrid Talk No. 5:
“Spider Silk: Nature’s strongest fibre’s extraordinary uses” (Professor My Hedhammar, KTH, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm)
Professor Hedhammar is an Associate Professor in Biochemistry at Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) and Swedish University of SLU, the founder of Spiber Technologies AB and is a Wallenberg Academy Fellow.

 

Q&A 

Mingle

 

Circular Transitions Conference 23th-24th of November 2016

 

Circular Transitions Conference

We are excited to announce that TED is currently organising a Mistra Future Fashion Conference on textile design and the circular economy this autumn. The event is being hosted by Dr Kate Goldsworthy and Professor Rebecca Earley at University of the Arts London. The conference is part of a research project for the Mistra Future Fashion consortium – a cross-disciplinary program with the vision of closing the loop in fashion and creating systemic change in Swedish industry and culture.

The aim of the conference is to create the vision of designing for a circular future where materials are designed, produced, used and disposed of in radical new ways. Circular Transitions will be the first global event to bring together academic and industry research concerned with designing fashion textiles for the circular economy. The themes will explore the design of new materials for fashion with approaches ranging from emerging technology and social innovation to systems design and tools.

 

The call for abstracts is now live, and will remain open until 25 March 2016. The call themes are:

 

Materials
Design which responds to technology, science, material developments.

  1. Challenges and benefits of new modes of production
  2. Opportunities for cleaner processes in the textile materials value chain
  3. Innovation in textile recycling technology
  4. Potential for digital tools and processes to enable a circular economy
  5. Tracking and tracing solutions in a complex material recovery industry


Models
Design for systems, services, models, business, networks and communities.

  1. New modes of consumption; disruptive business models
  2. Speed of product and material cycles; appropriate design
  3. Design of products for the technical and/or biological cycle
  4. Projects that explore successful industry / academic collaboration and also tensions between our traditional modes of competition and collaboration
  5. Design creating more social equity within the circular supply chain


Mindsets
Design of behaviours; tools, frameworks and experiences to enable and support collaboration, mindset change and improve decision making.

  1. Physical tools for facilitating collaboration across disciplines
  2. Pioneering and enabling the changing role of the designer in a circular economy
  3. Tools for designers to support the mindset and behaviour change of consumers
  4. Design approaches towards well being that develop circular cultures
  5. Opportunities for designers to bridge understanding of scientific tools (such as LCA)

Visit the event website for more information.

Sustainable Design Contest

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The Swedish fashion retailer KappAhl is today launching their Sustainable Design Contest. The competition runs from the 25th of January till the 27th of March and is open to fashion students from Sweden, Finland, Norway and Poland. The contest welcomes innovative design ideas which have a clear focus on sustainability for the fashion industry. The idea can be applied to a whole collection or focus on a specific type of garment, detail or means of production. The competition is motivated by the statement that over 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is determined by the designer at the drawing board. One prizewinner will be selected and given the chance to work towards making their winning idea a reality together with KappAhl’s design team during this autumn.

TED’s Senior Research Fellow Dr. Kate Goldsworthy will help judge the competition, representing the ongoing Swedish Mistra Future Fashion project.

TED writes for the Huffington Post

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A wee while ago Kay Politowicz was asked to respond to a question for the Huff. We thought it would be nice to share the piece with you on our TED blog.

Has global warming shifted the direction of textile research and development and how are retailers and manufacturers responding?

These huge questions are complex and interesting – so I am pleased to be able to think about them for a moment before answering!

Essentially – the research falls into the categories of: broadly academic and theoretical, institutionally funded OR industry based, technical or scientific and profit driven. Nothing wrong with either – both necessary, but largely separate in their focus and in their audiences. What is needed is some connection – especially through media communication. Fashion is entirely presented as ‘desirable image’ in popular media. The agenda- what it looks like, who is wearing it, where to get it and what’s coming next – are all promoting the consumption without reference to consequences – environmental or social. It would be interesting if some air and print time were devoted to the realities of existing production and the possibilities of alternative ideas – not just to publicise models of quality, longevity, locality, new technology and authenticity – but to explore what is really happening culturally in association with this contemporary phenomenon and what alternative activities/forms of creative engagement could become attractive to consumers.

The global warning awareness has changed the priority for research in design generally – if, by that, you link to environmental, economic and social issues. I would suggest that the most enlightened and engaged research is actually proposing a change to the role of the designer – to one who can facilitate change as well as come up with new reasons to make products.

Some 15 or so years ago – when Higher Education in the UK began seriously to fund research in art and design subjects, we set up a Research Group at Chelsea College of Arts, London, called ‘Textiles Environment Design’. The ‘we’ were a group of teachers, who were also textile designers…. in both roles, we needed to educate ourselves about the suspected environmental damage of textile production – to see whether there was any way that we could ‘design out’ some of the effects of our decisions down the production chain. It became the basis of a design practice-led research approach to our work and to the curriculum.

In many ways the distance between that moment – from THEN when our concerns were entirely about material and chemical pollution in production to the suspected waste in landfill – a ‘cradle to grave’ concern – to NOW, when it is clear that the only way to consider the impact of a design decision is to trace the journey through the ‘lifecycle’ of the material into its intended life as a product, which has a ‘cradle to cradle’ perspective in a circle of continuous use. An Internet community of researchers with this commitment is now able to propose initiatives, discuss ideas and make alliances.

Published design research over the last 10 years has raised awareness of the implications of ‘lifecycle thinking’ for designers (many), educators (some) and manufacturers (a few but increasing) – with a global map of interest in the ideas, where design thinkers and social anthropolgists have had an impact on the work of textile designers. In the UK: Jonathan Chapman, John Thackera, Daniel Miller; in USA – Michael Braungart, William McDonough; in Australia: Tony Fry; in Italy Ezio Manzini and many others. When we began our group in 1996, textile research was seen as a separate activity because of its particular technical materials development focus. It is now much more influenced by social sciences and anthropology – we believe the consumer has to be considered almost part of the ‘supply chain’ as we become aware of the global warming impact of laundry and disposal of clothing.

The increasing consumption of textiles for clothing is causing the biggest textiles impact on the environment – and gathering speed. It depends on oil and gas, consumes enormous amounts of water and contributes to vast mountains of waste. Fashion is seen by many, therefore, as the damaging industry – and must be stopped! But fashion is so much more than a problem product – it represents success, variety, entertainment, identity, ingenuity – and provides a source of economic prosperity. This fact is often overlooked by evangelistic, consumption-reducers. Practice-led design research, therefore, is being done into the production of textiles and garments that take their lead from theories of sustainability. But there is a huge gap at the moment between theoretical research and manufactured production.

In our research, we have devised a ‘TEN Strategies’ checklist for designers, by breaking down the ‘wicked’ problem into smaller elements to enable the development of a personal design brief. For example, we have been working as part of a research consortium with Swedish Government funding (MISTRA) and H&M, for the last 4 years, to make Swedish fashion greener and more profitable. They have a far-sighted approach to the problem, which has the buy-in of the giant fashion retailer H&M, one of the industrial players already committed to changing their supply chain to be more sustainable. The key to the effectiveness of this consortium of research groups is the range of expertise. Designers, political scientists, social scientist, fiber technologists, retail analysts and recycling experts are collaborating to propose systemic change for Swedish fashion. One of the most important features of the research is that it mixes funding from institutions and industrial partners. It therefore enables a bridge across the theory and practice ‘knowing-doing’ gap, to propose practical and profitable change – the only kind likely to succeed.

As for research and development within the brands – the significant players are investing in technical developments to make changes in their existing production chain. The US brand of Patagonia is an inspiration to production and development worldwide – aligning integrity with desirability in their product range. The active promotion of their values has attracted admiration worldwide. From this lead many other producers are listening for the first time to the possibility of change driven by a different set of imperatives from short-term financial profit. Puma are leading with investment into biodegradable, recyclable footwear, Levi with waste-less recycled polyester and water-less production. Considerable interest in ‘closed-loop recycling’ and Co2 waterless dyeing are providing credible developments in the production chain. Huge UK players M&S and Swedish H&M are retail leads in the link to ‘responsible’ consumer awareness.

A recent development is the interest from huge industrial partners in voluntary assessment tools to evaluate the environmental effect of decisions in the supply chain. The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a trade association of brands, retailers, NGOs and academics represent more than one third of the global apparel and footwear markets. In July 2012 they launched an assessment tool, based on established evaluation tools – including the Outdoor Industry Association’s Eco Index and Nike’s Environmental Apparel Design Tool – to better measure the comprehensive environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products. Named the Higg Index, the tool is a transparent and open-source tool currently being examined by EU politicians for its usefulness as a basis for legislation so that companies could be required to identify opportunities to reduce impacts and improve long-term sustainability throughout their supply chain. Retailers such as Primark have recently joined the SAC, entering sustainability data into an online assessment tool to generate performance scores and benchmarks. It is, of course, focused on improvements to the existing system albeit connecting sustainable improvements with profit, which is hopeful – but it does not really address system change and it is a far cry from compliance to innovation in this field. That is just beginning to emerge via a new breed of designer-producers, who see creative opportunities in new models of production for the future, where products are combined with services and waste streams are identified as raw material for production. Currently operating at a small scale on average, the hope is that the ‘scalable’ ideas being explored will become competitive with large industrial producers especially if consumers are serious about their preference for sustainable production.

The Textile Environment Design ‘TEN’ design strategy cards, referred to earlier, is one of the first design tools for textile/fashion designers to make their sample collections become demonstration models of the change they want to see in production. The message can be either explicit or implicit in their work – and a new generation of design students is being encouraged to think of positive action in this respect, as a business strategy for their professional progress.

The change from reactive to proactive developments in production can be effected with far-sighted design change to the current system. The question remains: in the face of no credible oil/gas replacement fuel, rising populations and old fashioned acquisitive aspiration in social groups worldwide – will the changes come soon enough to be still relevant?

Kay Politowicz
14.11.15