The Craft Readers

The Craft Readers_400ppi

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


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.

Speeds Stories: ‘FastSlow Textiles’

Speeds Stories_FastSlow Textiles

18th January 2016    

“ There are so many things that we really need to study, that are not going to make any money for anyone. If people such as me don’t do these studies, who will?”

Ethnographer Daniel Miller was interviewed in connection with his co-authored book on denim and everyday clothing. As an academic, Daniel is providing us with the focus and rigour in his research that is enlightening to design practice. Adopting the spirit of his enquiry and that of other social scientists, we are able to share our personal experiences of everyday living with regard to the choosing, using and disposing of our clothes.

As designers, we think as both creators and consumers. So, the FastSlow blogposts offer an analysis of personal attitudes towards our clothes, which constitute an auto-ethnographic study, revealing motivations that we can recognise and share. When, where and why do we buy fashion? What does any one purchase mean in our thinking – at the time or later? What does our thinking mean in the wider context of design and consumption? The rich collection of personal experiences of clothing outlined in the FastSlow Stories reflects acutely observed, personal behaviour and motivations from students and members of the TED research team. The personal stories offer a diverse mix of memories, humour, mistakes, sadness, insights, irony and dilemmas – both moral and social, characterising the range of emotions associated with fashion that we can all recognise.

Reflection on the experiences deserves further discussion, raising interesting questions concerning the translation of ideas into studio practice. The resulting shared insights into strategic decision-making, assist the direction and meaning of professional design practice. They enable a kind of self-realisation, taking Weick’s (1993) famous proposition: “How do I know what I think until I hear what I have to say?” into “How do I know what I think until I see what I make?”

Narratives reflecting on garments, which are an expression of belonging – either to ethnic cultures or family/friend  ‘tribes’, suggest emotional connections involving the passing on of personal or group culture. Fabrics as souvenirs of travel, used to repair garments, enable continued memories of places. Whereas a comfort cloth, treasured from childhood, can prove essential for wellbeing. ‘Misguided’ purchases are described as being a result of a desire to buy confidence for a social occasion or of the endorphins ‘responsible’ for an enthusiastic overspend at sale or outlet venues. Conversely, self-imposed pressure to buy clothes to fit in, be like the cool crowd, or stand out as an interesting individual leads to some regretted outfits, worn once or not at all. Professional confidences are shared, describing deception by luxury brands through cost-cutting in manufacture, leading to a call for ‘brand-transparency’ to ensure authenticity.

The blog has enabled an examination of what Fast and Slow can mean to each individual. ‘Fast Fashion’ is generally defined as garments that are acquired cheaply, on a whim or under pressure, with little or no regard for the environmental impacts or possible exploitation in manufacture. ‘Slow Fashion’ is seen as a considered purchase, often expensive to reflect costs of material, craft and quality production. It is often defined as ‘classic’ in appearance and function, for long and durable service. Motivations to shop are commonly described as: excitement, novelty, boldness or recklessness in the case of ‘Fast’, whereas  ‘Slow’ has an association of historic skills, aesthetic appreciation, investment in durability with emotional attachment – if not, occasionally, moral superiority.  Actually, Fast and Slow are as easily described as statements of quality rather than speed. Both it seems, could be equally valid if they were designed to fulfil the ideals of production without exploitation and with respect for the cycle of material impacts. Thus a huge range of design potential is demonstrated in overcoming the barriers to proposing sustainable products and capitalising on individuals’ motivations. The speed could be, therefore, simply the best-designed product for the need.

Written by Kay Politowicz

  • Blue Jeans: The Art of the Ordinary’, Daniel Miller & Sophie Woodward. University of California Press (2012).
  • ‘Stuff’, Daniel Miller. Polity Press (2009)
  • Evocative Objects: Things We Think With’, Ed. Sherry Turkle. MIT Press (2007)
  • ‘The System of Objects’, Jean Baudrillard. Verso Books (2005)

FastSlow MA Textiles TED Project Launch

Fast Slow Textiles MA Course
4th November 2015

The launch of FastSlow was an intense experience of ideas related to material cyclability. MA Textile Design students participated with enthusiasm in a series of talks and workshops led by practicing textile designers and researchers. The lectures and workshops were designed to demonstrate opportunities and tools to map the full potential of design decisions. The focus was the engagement of today’s textile designer in a material and social economy. A diverse range of solutions was developed by students, in their own, imagined, ‘slow’ design scenarios.

Collaborative, creative workshops led by Emmeline Child and Katherine May, inspired students to explore a series of ideas through the use of often familiar materials applied in new ways. As a result, students proposed transformative actions as potential disruptions to the fashion system. The products that were being conceived, acted as systems in their own right. Creative repair, personal reflection and adaptation of traditional hand techniques were applied to existing individual studio practice. Individual making sessions were propelled by a poetic introduction of chosen words delivered, at intervals, to create a changing focus for thought. Group discussion and material manipulation encouraged students to acquire the practices and skills necessary to make key changes through design.

Written by Kay Politowicz

Green Week: Fixing Fashion | Repair is the New Black

Bridget Harvey_jumper-image400

Repair is the new black!  For UAL Green Week 2015, TED PhD researcher Bridget Harvey invites you to experiment with mending your clothes and other textiles: customising them and fixing damage through patching, darning and adding new buttons.

In the UK we send over £200m of clothes to landfill each year. Mending can help keep these textiles in circulation, and help us love our clothes for longer. Learn hands-on skills for clothes mending – darning, patching and other small and simple mends. All the techniques can be done by hand, no previous skills or experience necessary.

Along with plenty of enthusiasm, all you need to bring with you are scrap fabrics or clothes with holes, stains, missing buttons etc!

Taking place at various College locations, many Green Week events encourage positive action. London College of Fashion is inviting staff and students to get involved in planting a new hedgerow habitat, while the cross-UAL ‘Waste Off Challenge’ (developed and part-funded by LCC) will see students transform waste materials into useful new creations. Central Saint Martins is offering students a workshop on mending clothes and fabrics, and a toolkit that promises to show how to make projects more sustainable. Camberwell College of Arts has set up the ‘Re-use Exchange’ which allows students to drop off excess materials from old projects to be re-used by others.

Fixing Fashion | Repair is the New Black

Friday 13 February 11:00 – 16:00
1st Floor – D1 Corridor, Central Saint Martins

Slow Summit lectures this Friday

The TFRC/Craftspace Slow Summit Open Lecture is this Friday and we are looking forward to seeing Alastair Fuad-Luke and Helen Carnac’s presentations. There are still places available for the lectures which are taking place at 272 High Holborn, Friday 8th July at 10:30am.

The event is co-curated by Becky Earley and Helen Carnac, and examines the emergence of the Slow Movement, within a context of design, making and art practice. The two guest speakers will map out the ground that this new creative thinking occupies, both addressing the theory and the practice, as well as the local/global economics and politics that fuel the movement.

Slow Summit event

The fourth event in the 2011 TFRC Open Lecture series, run in conjunction with Craftspace, is the Slow Summit, on July 8th with Prof. Alastair Fuad-Luke and Prof. Helen Carnac.

The event is co-curated by Becky Earley and Helen Carnac, and is an Open Lecture followed by an invitation-only workshop session. The event examines the emergence of the Slow Movement, within a context of design, making and art practice. The two guest speakers will map out the ground that this new creative thinking occupies, both addressing the theory and the practice, as well as the local/global economics and politics that fuel the movement.

Prof. Alastair Fuad-Luke is a renowned sustainable design theorist and writer and author of Design Activism, the Eco Design Handbooks and newly appointed Professor at Aalto University, Helsinki.

Prof. Helen Carnac is a maker, writer and curator of Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution, an touring exhibition from Craftspace.

The Open Lectures will be at 272 High Holborn, Lecture Theater, 10:30am – 1pm.

Forward and Up

Becky Earley and Kate Goldsworthy will be in conversation next Wednesday 5th June at 5: 15pm, in the Lecture Theatre at Chelsea, as part of the CCW Graduate Encounters series.

The presentation will trace the eleven years of conversations and collaborations – Becky and Kate worked on research projects together before Kate’s PhD project began in 2005 – and will look at the way in which their ideas evolved along parallel paths, both approaching the recycling of textiles from different creative perspectives.

Kate’s PhD Material Re-creation: forward recycling of synthetic waste for the luxury textile market , uses laser technology to create new textile surface treatments and applications, enabling a monomaterial approach to design for reuse of textiles.

Becky’s Top 100 project work explores the reuse of polyester clothing, and has created new theory for upcycling textiles. Each set of shirts has been subject to experiments which explore ecodesign theory in practice. Technically the project has demonstrated upcycling polyester through the use of: digital overprinting; digital dye sublimation overprinting; heat photogram overprinting; laser etching and welding (with Kate); sonic cutting and slitting; detachability and multifunction; low launder; locality; emotional durability, and most recently co-creation.

In 2008 Becky and Kate created the Twice Upcycled shirts together (pictured) – taking recycled shirts from Becky’s Top 100 project and giving them another new life. The presentation will focus on this work, exploring the way in which the collaboration inspired the researchers to go on to pursue new independent work.

Slow/Fast becomes a trend

Last autumn, TED Members Melanie Bowles and Emma Neuberg ran their Slow/Fast workshops at the V & A, where participants were encouraged to explore both hand and digital approaches to textile making. The course was awarded the ‘Best Creative Course’ in 2010 by the participants and was quite ground breaking in it’s approach.

Mel, Emma and their project has now been written up in, by Chelsea alumni Alsion Gough who works for this trends forecasting website, exploring what the Slow movement means for the textile and fashion industry.

The co-design element of the new Slow approaches is key, as Alison explains, “Further removing brand controls, open sourcing and shared knowledge is crucial for the slow movement and, as the slow textiles group strives towards an empowerment of the consumer, the role of digital and downloadable is gaining momentum…”.