TED Textile Toolbox workshop at Norwich University of the Arts

Helen Paine recently completed her PhD at Royal College of Art and is associated to TED via her PhD supervisor, Dr Kate Goldsworthy. This month Helen used TED’s TEN and the Textile Toolbox web platform to structure a future materials workshop for a group of 2nd and 3rd year Textiles students at Norwich University of the Arts. The session began with a short lecture that introduced TED’s research, their TEN sustainable research strategies and Textile-Toolbox pop-up exhibits. After this initial introduction, students were asked to reflect on their own practice and consider how they might develop a favourite sample from a previous project with reference to TED’s TEN. They worked together as a group to discuss ideas, which informed the development of their own sustainable manifestos. Each student presented their manifesto back to the group at the end of the morning session. There were some great ideas on ways of making their practice more sustainable, such as using dry processing methods to reduce water waste; substituting materials to maintain mono-materiality for closed-loop recycling; and building the consumer into their design process to reduce the need to consume.

BA Textiles students at Norwich University of the Arts developing sustainable manifestos for their work using TEDs TEN

Students took a more practical approach in the afternoon session to learn about the work of TED and performed Becky Earley’s Fast Refashion technique on a used polyester shirt. Helen wore a shirt that she had already transformed using the technique to inspire students and give them some ideas for their own designs. Stencils were cut from heat-transfer papers and applied directly to the surface of the shirt using a heat press. Through this exercise students were introduced to a quick and simple way of refashioning mono-material polyester clothing and were able to give their clothing a new lease of life for prolonged wear. Some of the students loved their transformed shirts so much that they wore them home from the session. Thanks TED for a great Toolbox of inspirational ideas!


BA Textiles students at Norwich University of the Arts performing Becky Earley’s Fast-Refashion technique on used polyester clothing

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.

Adhocism Project Exhibition: Chelsea BA Textile Design Stage 2 PV Wednesday 18th May 2016

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An exciting an impressive collection of work from BA Stage 2 students was on show at Millbank in mid May.

 

‘Adhocism’, the concluding project from the Stage 2 Textile Design Programme, was a demonstration of energy, enthusiasm and curiosity that characterizes the best kind of work from designers today. For several weeks, students were encouraged to explore their personal interests within a broad framework of ideas that connects contemporary world concerns – economic, social and environmental, connected by their interpretation of the concept of ‘Adhocism’.

 

The students declared an appetite for thinking in ambitious, radical ways when members of the TED research group held a ‘brainstorm workshop’ early in the project. Students articulated their developing ideas and confirmed the diverse and dynamic directions they were taking the TEN strategies, which represent new areas of creative concern for the textile designers of the future. The exciting thing is that there is still a further year of study for the students to confirm and develop a personal position in relation to their wide definition of the subject.

 

A competition for design solutions was set by the TED team, demonstrating: ambition; skill; aesthetic judgment and personal interpretation of sustainability. Any selection of the work best capturing these qualities proved very difficult, as radical new ideas were demonstrated in all disciplines and inspiring design challenges were identified at all stages of the lifecycle.

 

Finally, a selection was made of 4 ‘commended’ students: Yee Nan Fong, James Frost, Zoe Hartington and Brian Lamb, while the top prize was unanimously awarded to Hannah Louise Robinson. The prizes, presented by Prof. Rebecca Earley, included a paid ‘internship’, enabling the winning student to work as part of the TED group – on live, ongoing, project material, prior to final year BA study.

 

 

Commended Students:

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James Frost: for the way in which he considered the subject of trainers as a vehicle for systemic change in the fashion industry. Their meaning in social, economic and environmental terms was well researched and presented. The entrepreneurial spirit James demonstrated in setting up a website to effect positive social change was highly commended.

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Yee Man Fung: for her connection between her textile practice and her ethical concerns about killing animals for food. Yee’s use of humour and inventiveness in setting out a knitted banquet with a correspondingly challenging menu was thought provoking and skillful in equal measure. The collection was commended for offering an aesthetic yet activist approach to her firmly held beliefs.

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Brian Lamb: whose work featured the production of a professionally presented development of modular structures in a dynamic video format. The design of a diagrammatic range of furniture proposed products for distributed manufacture, DIY consumer involvement and a possible context for woven textiles.  Brian’s use of the software promotes a convincing, next generation of product communication for designers.

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Zoe Hartington: for her creation of a huge vision by applying her skills to the urban environment.  Zoe transformed the urban landscape into a canvas for the application of beautiful, projected images. Her large format photographs captured Thames river views as virtual renditions of Venetian paintings. The presentation of such ambitious and compelling images demonstrated the transformative qualities of design thinking to problems of urban degeneration.

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Winner – Hannah Louise Robinson: for her original and impressive interpretation of the pressing environmental and economic problems caused by waste material. Her thorough and detailed research was evidence of a complete commitment to exhaustive investigation of the issues. Hannah’s application of an intelligent series of design decisions regarding re-crafting techniques, new industrial connections in production and application to a final ‘product’ was impressive – particularly as the product was the changed nature of the fabric itself. It achieved new value for the material and pointed towards transformative future product development.

 

Congratulations to all students and staff for the impressive demonstration of ambitious ideas, deep thinking, humour and skill.

 

The TED team
27th May 2016

 

 

The TEN Adhocism Brainstorming Session

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This week the TED team with associate researchers facilitated a brainstorming session for the BA Textile second year students in the Banqueting Hall at Chelsea College of Arts. The students were divided into groups based around a leading TEN strategy that they had chosen to focus on for the project. In the groups each student presented their project ideas and research followed by a round-table discussion led by one of the TED team experts including Dr Kate Goldsworthy, Prof Kay Politowicz, Miriam Ribul, Josefin Landalv, Gabrielle Miller, Dr Emma Neuberg and Bridget Harvey.

The session was wrapped up with each group presenting key points and shared approaches that had emerged during the session. A majority of the students were using ‘layered design thinking’ and incorporated more than one strategy in their project. Lifecycle approaches, systems thinking and design activism were strong themes among the students where they demonstrated progressive thinking and innovative ideas.

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.

Trash-2-Cash Workshop #02

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Last week representatives from each of the partners travelled to Prato, Florence for Workshop #02 of the Trash-2-Cash project. Although the partners have met before, this was a particularly exciting moment in the project as the designers, materials scientists and manufacturers pooled their knowledge and capabilities to in an attempt to innovatively transform waste textiles into a cellulosic (CES) and a polymer (PES) fibre for the first time.

The workshop was generously hosted in style by Enrico Cozzoni (Grado Zero) and included a tour of the Textile Museum location, in Prato. The aim was to identify materials characteristics for the new fibres; for design and market insights to challenge materials R&D.

The workshop began with a materials showcase session which was energetically facilitated by Christian Tubito of Materials ConneXion Italia and supported by Becky Earley from University of the Arts London, Kirsi Niinimäki and Sari Berglund from Aalto Arts, Finland. Each partner brought with them a material sample to begin the discussion around potentialities both of the partner engagements and of the materials research. Large posters enabled the participants to begin to build a picture of the key benefits and limitations of existing CES and PES materials in knitted, woven and non-woven forms. A ‘wish list’ of fibre/material characteristics as well as potential applications were identified.

The real triumph of Workshop #02 was that we caught a glimpses of future scenarios for these new ‘super-fibres’; a picture emerged of how these new materials might ‘look’ in the context of peoples’ lives and lifestyles… the most exciting part is that this was materials- AND design- led, and couldn’t have happened without all of the expertise present at Prato.

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

Future Fashion Manifesto

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28th-29th September 2015 

Professor Becky Earley spoke at the Mistra Future Fashion event held at Stockholm’s School of Economics on the 28th-29th September. The Mistra Future Fashion research program seeks to achieve systemic sustainable change within the fashion industry and brings together the expertise and networks of leading Swedish and international research institutes and universities.

The event held at the Stockholm School of Economics was the first public dissemination of the research for phase 1 (2011-2015). Research partners presented their main findings and summarised their plans for the second phase of research (2015-2019). As a result of collated insights from phase 1 a Future Fashion Manifesto has been developed. This describes current knowledge and forms a roadmap for further research. You can download the manifesto here.

A Pop-up exhibition of the Textile Toolbox prototypes developed by researchers at TED was shown and assisted in demonstrating and stimulating discussion around TED’s The TEN sustainable design strategies.

http://www.mistrafuturefashion.com

Written by Helen Paine

Textile Toolbox at Borås Fashion Textile Centre

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Professor Becky Earley is the keynote speaker at a seminar organised by SP, the Technical Research Institute of Sweden, at Borås Textile Fashion Centre on 27th of April. The talk was part of ”The forest on the catwalk” event that focused on textiles and fashion from Swedish innovation. Moderated by the MISTRA Future Fashion communication manager Sigrid Barnekow, the event included speakers Mats Westin, Anna Palme, Mikael Lindström, Hans Grundberg and Kristina Elg Christoffersson.

What is needed to make the Swedish forest industry the fashion industry’s main supplier of raw materials? Today, research is ongoing in all parts of the supply chain, and examples abound of how forests can be converted into clothing. In an era of climate change we are changing the field in which new innovations are made through the encounter of different disciplines. What are the barriers for achieving a sustainable future economy? One thing we can be certain of is that the future garment production will not look like today.

Since five years SP has invited all industrial customers and collaboration partners to an annual event with presentations of exciting research projects, workshops and interactive exhibitions. This year SP organised six events each with a different theme, including MedTech, transport and automotive, and textiles.

Professor Earley’s keynote speech included the first catwalk show of the garments of the Textile Toolbox exhibition. Attendees were invited to interact with the samples and garment prototypes at the Textile Toolbox Pop Up show set up by Professor Becky Earley and Miriam Ribul in the Borås Textile Fashion Centre.

The TEN sustainable design strategies workshop – Adhocism project

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TED researchers worked with all stage 2 BA Textile Design students at Chelsea for a The TEN strategies workshop in March. The team lead a brainstorming session for the Adhocism project where the students evaluated their practice through the lens of one selected sustainable design strategy.

Each group was lead by an expert that facilitated the discussion around a set of The TEN strategies:

  1. Kate Goldsworthy: TT1&2
  2. Kay Politowicz: TT1&2
  3. Helen Paine: TT3&4&5
  4. Philippa Wagner: TT6
  5. Josefin Landalv: TT8
  6. Miriam Ribul: TT6&9&10
  7. Bridget Harvey: TT6&9&10

The results of the workshop highlighted how the students recognise a layered approach to their designs, demonstrating how they already apply multiple strategies for sustainability when designing. The groups also presented the opportunities that emerge through sharing and collaborating.