The First Trash-2-Cash Podcast

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During the Trash-2-Cash workshop in Milan in the beginning of the summer, Professor Becky Earley sat down with project partner Julie Hornix (VanBerlo) to talk social design, megatrends, and summer reading recommendations. This is the first podcast in a series that will explore the people, methods and tools involved in the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project. Once the outcomes phase of the project has been completed they will also host in-depth discussions about the impact these will have on the world. You can download the podcast on iTunes or Soundcloud now! Julie has written the post below to accompany the podcast.

 

Over the past couple of months Ivo, Marjorie and I have had the pleasure of taking part in the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project representing the Dutch design agency VanBerlo.

 

VanBerlo is passionate about helping our planet.
We’re also passionate about design and technological opportunities. So for us, this partnership was a match made in heaven. Here’s a short round up of our role and goals for T2C.

 

Dream Green!
At VanBerlo, we crave new approaches to the re-use of materials and waste reduction. To dream is to think big, and by thinking big you can come up with countless ideas to help the environment through design. We love to bridge the ideas with the visual, enabling us to go that one step further.

Joining the T2C project, VanBerlo’s goal is to help recycle textile from a design-driven perspective. Alongside the other T2C partners, we aim to increase the value of the end product (instead of traditional downcycling) – to upcycle and contribute to the grave to cradle initiative – no matter which industry is involved.

 

Not only do we bring global trend research to the table, but we also explore ideas in novel ways that help to produce surprising insights.
As our Senior Designer Ivo Lamers explains,“We believe that design thinking will help bridge the gap between science, technology and practice. This approach helps to boost the entire T2C project! At VanBerlo we often use metaphors to get discussions started, intensified, structured or sometimes even ended. Using the superhero metaphor during the Helsinki workshop initiated a huge team spark and helped to create common understanding and a common language between the partners about scenarios.”

 

We make sure that our ideas aren’t just cool; but that they also answer business challenges and user needs.
At the end of the day success for us is that the results should be accessible and globally relevant, rather than just being created for a niche market.

Julie Hornix, Design Researcher, Van Berlo

 

Podcast Links

VanBerlo

Change Ahead book

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close book

This American Life podcast

99% invisible podcast

Materials! at WS04 Material Connexion Milano

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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.

 

Do Better Things: Do Things Better

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16th November 2015, Fashion Foundry, WASPS Studios in Glasgow

 

Dr Jen Ballie and Mark Shayler were invited by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and the Scottish Textile and Leather Association (STLA) to design an interactive session within an event titled ‘Do Better Things: Do Things Better’.

As designers and consumers alike, we can invest our energy, efforts and expertise into designing and doing good things. But will these actions have a true and meaningful impact within a world already proliferated with too much stuff? A recent BBC documentary titled ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’ highlighted that in the UK alone, we are disposing of seven tonnes of textile waste, every five minutes.

Within many design disciplines there has over the last few decades been a lot of discussion about dematerialised consumption patterns; about shifting the focus in design from material possessions to accessibility and services. But why are there so few examples of organised service systems within fashion or textiles?

Mark and Jen were challenged to deliver a hands-on, interactive workshop to re-imagine sustainability for textile and fashion businesses.

Mark Shayler from This is Ape drew upon his notable expertise of working with big brands to share insights into how we might go about doing more, with less, to develop sustainable brand stories. He talked about the value of truly believing in what you do and mindfully shaped the morning session to provoke new thinking.

During the afternoon, Jen expanded upon her PhD research to introduce service design as an approach for fashion and textiles. Within service design, touch points are used to craft a customer journey. The group explored what fashion and textile touch points could be and how they might be tailored to design alternative fashion experiences. The session concluded with everyone sharing a recipe card, a how-to guide for crafting a touch point, and these will be combined to curate the first chapter of an interactive toolkit.

As designers, every decision we make has a profound impact on people and the environment and we need to better understand how garments live their lives with people.

Written by Dr Jen Ballie
Image Credit: Zero Waste Scotland 2015

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

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

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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

Elastic Tools Project

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Elastic Tools is a project by Rebecca Earley, assisted by Bridget Harvey, for the CCW Graduate School during Spring 2015. It is part of the Culture of Resilience Project (CoR), a two years UAL-wide initiative, the goal of which is to build a “multiple vision” on the cultural side of resilience by putting together a set of narratives, values and ideas that are coherent in that they are all based on resilient systems, but in many other aspects they are very diverse. A multiplicity of images that, like the stones of a mosaic, may generate a larger one: a mobile, dynamic, colourful vision of a resilient, sustainable civilization.

The Elastic Tools Project aims to create new ideas, tools and techniques to support textile designers and makers in the way that they teach textiles to the next generation. This week we have recruited two MA textile design students to work on the first stage of the project – building their own personal tools and techniques.

Follow the progress on the project site here.

The TEN cards are now available in Swedish and simplified / traditional Chinese

THE TEN cards are now available to buy from the TFRC shop in Swedish, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese.

TED has translated THE TEN cards to Swedish for our MISTRA Future Fashion project 3 ‘Interconnected Design Thinking and Processes for Sustainable Textiles and Fashion’. The first sets of Swedish cards have been printed for the MISTRA Future Fashion researchers meeting at the Copenhagen Business School in November 2013.

For the field research with MISTRA Future Fashion in China, THE TEN cards have been translated to both traditional Chinese for our workshop in Hong Kong in January 2014, and to simplified Chinese for our field research in Shanghai. The recent Redress EcoChic Design Award 2013 winners have received their first sets of cards to co-create an up-cycled Hong Kong Shirt.

Our MISTRA Future Fashion project website Textiletoolbox will develop into an online exhibition later this year, and we will invite designers to use the cards to develop new prototypes.