TED's Year in Review

While our new TED website is being developed, this blog has been the place for all our news and research work. Before we finish for the year, we have drawn up a Review of our year and would like to share the highlights with you here:

The highlight of the year for TED has been the launch and dissemination of a set of sustainable design strategies for textile designers that TED has been working on for several years. TED’s
TEN were refined and tested during Becky Earley’s Worn Again / Upcycling Textiles AHRC project that finished in late 2009, and this year has seen the strategies disseminated and promoted to a wide range of audiences including design students, educators and designers in industry.

TED’s TEN has been presented and integrated into several consultancy projects that Becky Earley has worked on this year including to designers within the Gucci Group in March; to small independent textile companies as part of Future Factory in Nottingham in April; to staff of the PPR Group (who own fashion brands including Gucci, Alexander McQueen and Puma) in May and to designers from leading Swedish brands at the Sustainable Fashion Academy in Stockholm. The set of strategies are also the core element in TED’s contribution to two different Swedish consortiums that are bidding for MISTRA funding for sustainable textile projects, and will play a central role in a new consultancy package being developed with the UAL’s Textile Futures Research Centre’s enterprise arm.

International Impact:
TED’s work was again taken to an international level this year with the TED team delivering five days of our Interconnected Design Thinking Workshops to design students at Weisenssee College in Berlin in April; Becky Earley and Emma Neuberg delivering two separate series of lectures and workshops to Shenkar College of Engineering and Design, Tel Aviv; Becky Earley talking on the panel of the Paris Ethical Fashion Show in September; Clara Vuletich visiting UTS in Sydney and RMIT in Melbourne, Australia with a series of workshops and lectures in October, and Kay Politowicz talking about TED at the Museo del Tessuto in Prato, Italy in November.

Research projects:
Projects initiated by TED this year included Prof. Kay Politowicz’s Summer Debate in July, where a panel of four speakers were asked to argue for and against the motion that ‘Sustainable Design in the Real World is just an Educator’s Fantasy...’, with the audio recordings and transcriptions subsequently being made available on the TED website.

TED also initiated a new CCW scheme for one-day practice-based research workshops. The first was called D(urability) Day, where TED members explored garment durability concepts using print techniques on old, unworn garments. This day saw the development of a short and effective model for ‘quick and dirty’ practice-based research that TED will continue to develop and explore.

TED was also invited to be part of a research project led by CCW Fine Art research group Critical Practice called Parade in the Chelsea Parade Ground. TED staged a ‘Wardrobe Disclosure’ stall to engage members of the public in conversation about the challenge to designers to slow down / divert the stream of fashion garments to landfill, by exploring emotional attachments to clothes.

New work from TED members was created for a ground-breaking exhibition of no-waste fashion at the Science Museum in London,
Trash Fashion: Designing out Waste, that also showcased the innovative work of our fellow Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) members including Suzanne Lee from CSM and Sandy Black from LCF. TED members work was also shown in reTHINK! Eco textiles at the Audax Textile Museum in Tilburg, Holland.

Pieces from Becky Earley’s
Top 100 ten year ‘slow fashion’ project have also been collected by the Museum at FIT, and shown in their Eco Fashion: Going Green exhibition in New York, and on tour throughout the UK in the Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution show.

Clara Vuletich created new work as part of the
AA2A Artists In Residence scheme at Chelsea exploring how digital textile printing can re-invent quilting and patchwork techniques, that was shown at Camberwell Space in July.

Papers & Publications:
A paper by TED members Becky Earley. Kate Goldsworthy and Clara Vuletich was published in Future Textile Environments, (Brink, R. and Ullrich, M., HAW College Hamburg) and work from TED members has been published in two key design texts this year: Eco Fashion (Laurence King), by Sass Brown and Textile Futures: Fashion, Design and Technology (Berg) by Bradley Quinn.

Emma Neuberg, Clara Vuletich and Becky Earley were all invited to speak at the
Slow Textiles Conference at the Stroud International Textile Festival in May, the first conference of its kind to explore what ‘Slow’ means for textile designers, with the audio recording and transcriptions being made available via TED’s website. Other speaking engagements included Becky Earley at the Crafts Council’s Craft Rally in London and Sheffield, and Kay Politowicz at the University of Bolton in July

Along with textile researchers from London College of Fashion and Central St Martin, TED members are part of the
Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) that has recently become one of the six research centres within the University. Becky Earley is currently the Acting Director of TFRC and has been busy planning some exciting new events and projects for 2011.

TFRC’s four research strands have been announced and these include: Design/Science Textiles; Digital Textiles; Sustainable Textiles and Identity & Reflection. While up to this point, most members have been involved in their own individual research, this new structure is encouraging new collaborative research that will exist at the intersection of some or all of these themes. TED’s research work will obviously fall under the Sustainable Textiles theme, and our TED’s TEN is currently being developed into several consultancy packages for textile companies.

Sustainability in the Curriculum:
Closer to home, TED has been integrating our sustainable design thinking into the student curriculum with several student projects led by Prof. Kay Politowicz.
Inside/Outside was a third year BA and MA project sponsored by Burberry, where students were asked to uncover and revive vintage materials and historic processes that were current at the time of Millbank Prison (the site of Chelsea College by the Thames), and to connect them to new, (often digital) sustainable textile processes and innovations of tomorrow.

Another student project was Glocalisation, for second year BA students which was supported by on-line furniture retailer made.com and in collaboration with Monkey Biz, a South African AIDS charity.

TED’s work continues to also feed into the student curriculum through the IMPACT lifecycle lecture series for first year BA and MA students and the Green Textiles elective for second year students.

TED’s PhD Students:
We now have a group of four students based at TED: Kate Goldsworthy is in the final writing up stage and is now course co-ordinator for CSM’s MA Textile Futures course; Jan Ballie, our TFRC scholarship student, has just completed her second year and her literature review (RF3); and our two new students this year are Matty Aspinall and Susan Noble.

The new TED
website will be launching in early 2011, with a range of digital resources from many of TED’s research projects and events, including audio recordings and transcriptions of talks and project summary reports that will begin to map and define the unique practice-based approach of our research team.

We have several exciting events and projects planned for 2011, and the first will be a one-day summit on Slow, co-curated by Becky Earley and Helen Carnac, in partnership with Craftspace and ArtQuest. Watch this space for more information in the New Year and have a wonderful festive season from all of us here at TED.


TFRC launches as University Research Centre

Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) has recently become one of the University's six Research Centres and it includes textile researchers from Chelsea/Camberwell/Wimbledon, London College of Fashion and Central St Martins.

Becky Earley is currently the Acting Director of TFRC and Becky has been busy planning some exciting new events and projects. The launch of the Centre's new status was last week where members met to start workshopping the Centre's new research themes. These themes are: Design/Science Textiles; Digital Textiles; Sustainable Textiles and the fourth theme Identity & Reflection. The new diagram shown above, is a visualisation of the themes and how they may overlap. While up to this point, most members have been involved in their own individual research, this new structure is encouraging new collaborative research that will exist at the intersection of some or all of these themes.

There is also a new blog called TFRC Connections, which explores and celebrates the connections between TFRC members work. Watch this space for more news about some of the new TFRC project's happening in the New Year.


Clara Vuletich was at the Ethical Fashion Forum's Excellence in Ethical Fashion Training Day last week as an 'expert' in sourcing sustainable materials. Clara saw several different independent fashion companies and designers who were looking for advice and guidance.

It turned out that the most helpful advice Clara could give was a copy of TED's TEN Design Strategies. There is often an assumption in the ethical fashion world that fashion and textile designer's already have the design skills needed, and all they need guidance with is issues such as marketing, sourcing and finding the right production supply chain. However, here at TED we would argue that the complexity of sustainability requires designers to work with a range of interconnected design strategies that can leverage real innovation and change and that are not just limited to the 'hard' aspects such as materials and processes.

This may include awareness and understanding of how service design approaches could be helpful, or how to design in the potential for upcycling at the end of the garment's life. This is where our TED's TEN comes in.

While TED has been developing this set of design strategies for several years now, there have been other recent attempts to offer strategies or 'toolkits' for designers to navigate sustainability. There is a set of values for slow fashion developed by Slow Fashion Forward in Sweden, and the Slowlab with Alistair Fuad-Luke have developed a set of strategies to design 'slowly'. Finally, there is a Toolkit for Designers who want to learn how to be Social Innovators from Ezio Manzini's organisation DESIS.

Most of these , are quite broad and conceptual and not specifically related to a textile and fashion context. We believe TED's TEN fills this gap.


While the Burberry sustainable textile student project has been going on with our third year textile students, Prof. Kay Politowicz has also been busy co-ordinating another live student project with an ethical agenda.

Second year textile students have been hard at work on a project called Glocalisation, in conjunction with online furniture retailer made.com and African Aids charity Monkey Biz, who create wonderful hand beaded objects. The term 'glocalisation' is a combination of the words 'local' and 'global', and the students were asked to look at their local area or place and record and explore the colours that capture this place.

A selection of the students colour palettes and design mood boards were then chosen by speciality beaders Monkeybiz in South Africa, who created a series of beaded panels based on the designs. These panels will then be digitally scanned and printed as artworks, which will be sold on made.com's website, with a percentage of sales going back to the Monkeybiz charity.

There were quite a few people involved in the whole process of this project and it was wonderful to see how this collaborative nature was revealed through the final beaded designs. The beaders had interpreted the student's designs and colour palettes so originally and vibrantly and we look forward to seeing the final digital prints.

See a mention of the project in Design Week here and in My Daily.com here.


Artist/designer in the digital textile department

The Artists in Residence Scheme (AA2A) here in the textiles department at Chelsea is continuing this year, and the lucky artist/designer is Tope Tijani, a 2009 graduate.

Tope specialised in digital textiles and she will be working with the digital textile printer developing a new body of work. Tope currently produces an accessories range of digitally printed laminated bags and purses which are sold in boutiques in London and Paris.

Another artist on the scheme, in the fine art department, is Jonathon Baldock, who interestingly uses mixed media materials including fabrics to create sculptures.


Back in November 2009, TED member Clara Vuletich gave a presentation on environmental impacts of the lifecycle of textiles for a student project at London College of Fashion called Fashioning the Future , where fashion students were given the brief to re-design the uniforms for the student nurses at Kings College.The project is now complete with the winning design being made up into prototypes.

The designers had to consider several factors when they were re-designing the uniform, including comfort and ease of movement and how the nurses would be washing and caring for the garment. Nurses have to wash their uniforms at 60c after each wear for health and safety reasons, and as there is strong evidence that suggests most environmental impacts of a garment lifecycle is in the use phase, this was a key factor for the designer's to consider.

The winning design by Pandora Howard-Griffin, included the introduction of stretch jersey panels to the sides and back of tunics and dresses and removal of collars and introduction of soft bias bindings to eliminate chafing.

Pandora's extensive textile research led her to propose the introduction of bamboo fibre as it draws away moisture, breathes up to four times more effectively than cotton, has naturally occuring antibacterial properties and can be produced in a manner which has lower energy use impact. (Although, the environmental credentials of the production of bamboo is starting to be questioned and there are several students at the University of Cambridge, researching this, some of which can be found here).

However, this fabric has not yet been tested and approved for use in in the UK healthcare system, although it has been adopted by states in the USA and by Singapore. Consequently, approved light-weight polycotton fabrics were substituted for bamboo fabrics in the prototype uniforms produced.

The garments are undergoing limited trials in partner hospitals where nursing students are on placements.


Kay Politowicz has been in Italy at the Museo del Tessuto, a textile museum in Prato speaking at a conference on the creative use of textile archives. The conference was the final event in the Eurotex ID project, which aimed to enhance the European textile identity.

The first stage of the project has seen the digitising of textile archives from Prato and several museums in Spain, providing details of the local, specific production processes and techniques of each piece. The next stage involved fashion design students who were allowed access to the textile archives and through a series of creative workshops, were encouraged to re-interpret the samples for new designs.The student's designs were also on show at the event.

Kay's presentation to the symposium audience showcased TED's Design Stories, which visualises TED's TEN Design Strategies for sustainability.

This project is a great example of a way to encourage designer's to find inspiration and new ways of thinking and making through historical archive pieces, and ties in with one of TED's Design Strategy, 'Look Back to Look Forward'.


TED members at the V & A

TED members Melanie Bowles and Emma Neuberg have been busy over at the V & A, running an exciting workshop programme called Fast/Slow. Inspired by the current exhibition, Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes, the course encourages participants to explore hands-on making techniques combined with using the latest digital technologies, including digital textile printing.

Mel recently gave a presentation to the participants titled 'Digital Textiles Now', focusing on the growth of the pro-amateur and home grown designer who are creating their own textiles by utilising local digital textile print bureaus, in turn revitalizing local textile industries.

For some of the results from the course, see Emma's Slow Textiles blog.


We are always keen to stay in touch with our alumni, and fascinated to see the way our teachings about sustainable design thinking have an impact once our graduates go out into the world.

One recent graduate, Bridget Harvey, not only comes back regularly to TED to intern with us, but she is also organising the programme of talks at the Wapping Project's bookshop.

Bridget wrote her dissertation on Slow Design in 2009, (the abstract will soon be available to read on our new website coming soon!), and she developed her own 'manifesto' for what this means for textile production. It is currently being read and referenced by this years final year students.

Bridget has organised for a fellow Chelsea alumni, Tamasyn Gambell to speak about her work at The Wapping Project Bookshop on 2nd December. Tamasyn is a printed textile designer who works with ethically sourced materials, using environmentally sound processes to create bold accessories and stationary, that defy the stereotypical “eco aesthetic”. Using her experience working for large fashion companies and living and travelling the world, she draws on a myriad of influences to upcycle fabrics through print.

Amongst her other products are up-cycled luxury scarves and home textiles, and her company also supports a welfare project in Kerala.

Tickets are £5 and can be booked by emailing shop@thewappingproject.com


Burberry project

Here at TED we have been busy continuing to embed all our sustainable design thinking into the student's studio practice. Our latest project that tries out new ways to do this is called Inside/Outside, and is being sponsored and supported by Burberry.

The link between Chelsea College and Burberry is our location - we share the same neighbourhood by the Thames river at Millbank, and Burberry have been staging their twice-yearly fashion shows in our Parade Ground since 2009. In the 18th and 19th century, the site of the college used to be the infamous Millbank Prison, designed using Bentham's 'Panoptican' building design.

The project encourages students to uncover and revive vintage materials and historic processes that were current at the time of Millbank Prison, and to connect them to new, (often digital) textile processes and innovations of tomorrow.

Christopher Bailey, the Creative Director of Burberry has been to see the students and was keen to make the link between Burberry's heritage and his current design approach.

The programme includes a whole series of guest lecturers and workshops from people including Helen Carnac, curator of Taking Time: Craft and the Slow Revolution, new TED PhD student Maddy Aspinall who will teach the traditional technique of smocking and Zane Berzina, visiting lecturer from Weissensee College in Berlin, who specialises in textiles and soft technologies.

Watch the project as it unfolds on the student blog.with regular reflections and thoughts from the TED researchers.


New TED PhD students

We have two new PhD students starting with us at TED this year. The first student is Matilda Aspinall, who will be looking at historical garments and the way they were mended and repaired, to rediscover a series of techniques which could inspire and inform contemporary clothing producers to create garments with a longer life span.

This idea of 'textile precedents', that we have been mulling over at TED for a while, has now been integrated into TED's Design Strategies. Titled 'Look Back to Look Forward', this strategy asks how practices of the past can inform textile design and production of the future.

Matty has just been to the exhibition called Threads of Feeling, at the Foundling Museum in London, and reports below on what she saw.

The Foundling Hospital in London opened in 1741. Not a hospital in the true sense but a place to provide ‘maintenance and education for deserted young children.It was set up by philanthropist, Thomas Coram, who after returning from many years at sea, was appalled by the sight of young children left to die on the streets of London. The Foundling Hospital offered hope to poverty stricken young women who previously had to abandon their babies on the roadside or in the doorways of churches.

From 1741 to 1756 women leaving their babies at the hospital were invited to leave a token as a means of identification should they ever be in the position to reclaim them. Textile swatches were cut either from the mother’s clothing or the baby’s at the time of registration and then placed with a printed billet.

For many years these swatches have remained in storage in billet books in the London Metropolitan Archives too fragile to display. This exhibition, curated by historian John Styles, author of The Dress of the People: Everyday Fashion in 18th Century England, presents these precious swatches with insights into why such tokens were used (literacy rates were very poor) and snippets to give a rare glimpse into 18th century plebian fashion.

These fabrics now comprise the largest collection of everyday 18th century textiles surviving in Britain. Not only is there a wide range of fabrics, there are decorative ribbons, embroidery and even a few items of clothing. Each scrap of fabric conjures a poignant story reflecting the life of the child and its absent parents.

How wonderful to be able to view such extraordinary pieces of fabric. Such fantastic weaves, prints and textures. My two personal favorites were two separate, tiny detachable sleeves; sleeves being the perfect token to leave, as of course, there are two of them. Was the mother given the other sleeve?

Children’s clothing was generally created from disused adult clothing so these wonderful block printed textiles can really fire up the imagination to envisage what women of that era were actually wearing. Additionally, it is a great insight in to the extraordinary variety of clothing that the children of that time actually wore. The registration billet that was meticulously filed by the hospital clerk gives a 23 item-clothing checklist. These garments include: cap, biggin, frock, upper-coat, mantle, petticoat, pilch. Sadly, the majority of items weren’t ticked.

This was a fascinating, beautiful, heart breaking, extraordinary and a compelling study of surviving textiles, not only in understanding their physical nature and function but importantly, their cultural significance .

By Matilda Aspinall, TED PhD student


Eco Textiles in Tilburg

The work of several TED members is currently on show in reTHINK!: Eco Textiles at the Audax Textile Museum in Tilburg, Holland.

The show is an overview of the lifecycle of textile production from a sustainability point of view and includes the work of independent designers as well as commercial textile companies from the Netherlands.

Several of us showed pieces that were made during the Ever & Again project, or work that was developed after, in response to all the ideas and new thinking the project generated.

Becky Earley is showing one of her upcycled polyester Top 100 shirts, Mel Bowles is showing her Wallpaper Dress, Clara Vuletich is showing her Love & Thrift coat and Gary Page is showing two items from his wonderful 1-2-5 Collection of dresses.

Kate Goldsworthy, who is also showing a new garment made using laser technology to re-invigorate polyester, is also running a one day workshop on using laser technology for upcycling in January.

There is a good review of the show in Dutch site Design.nl.


TED's Sustainable Design Strategies At Work

Becky Earley has recently been out and about promoting TED's Sustainable Design strategies to commercial clients. In March this year Becky introduced the strategies to designers from the Gucci Group at a TFRC event, and in May to a larger range of professionals at a PPR group event in Cambridge.

Last week's workshop at the Sustainable Fashion Academy in Stockholm, Sweden, was attended by twenty delegates from industry. They were designers, marketing and innovation managers from a broad range of Swedish companies, including H&M.

Yesterday’s one-to-one sessions were part of Becky’s return visit to the Future Factory project in Nottingham, based at Nottingham Trent University. Five local businesses had 40 minute sessions to further explore sustainable design concepts that they had been introduced to in the spring this year.

For all the delegates the work and information around materials and manufacturing are so important, but being introduced to the ‘soft’ eco design concepts prove to be just as useful. One Swedish participant wrote back last week:

“I thoroughly enjoyed yesterday… When I got home last night, I honestly couldn't stop thinking about the Seven Design Strategies that Becky presented during the day and the in particular the ideas on ‘Replace the Need to Consume’ and ‘Design Activism’. From my perspective those two areas seems to be as much about communication as production and with my background in communication, pr and marketing those ideas triggered my creativity. After listening to Becky I believe that there are plenty to do in those areas as well...”

If you would like more information about the consultancy workshops TED run, please contact Clara on ted@chelsea.arts.ac.uk


TED Postcard from Melbourne

The talk I gave on our Upcyling Textiles project in Melbourne was a success, with about 35 people joining us at the new Harvest Textiles workspace. The talk was the first event at the space, that will house their screen printing workshops, a gallery space and a retail shop. They have some grand plans to run artists-in-residence programmes and all sorts of talks and events, so watch their space!

I introduced the audience to the work of all the TED members and the outcomes from the Ever & Again project. There were some interesting questions from the floor, including the question we get asked the most about the project - 'Are all these great ideas actually commercially viable?'.

The next talk will be to staff and students at RMIT University textile department on Tuesday.


TED postcard from Sydney

For the workshop I ran yesterday at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the students made their own small patchwork sample, using fabric scraps. Taking a few basic quilting shapes as templates, we explored the idea of zero-waste cutting and hand-stitching. Several students had never used a needle and thread, so we worked slowly and quietly. At the end all of the pieces were brought together to make one whole 'quilt' which we photographed, and will then digitise and play around with using CAD tools.

I also presented a talk on 'Digital Craft' exploring the work of 'hybrid designers' such as weaver Ismini Samandiou and my work of 'digital quilting' called Fragments.

The students are involved in a project called 'Waste in the City' run by Marie O'Mahony. They have been put in groups and have been assigned an area of the city, and each group has been mapping the waste of that area, to identify any potential design interventions, using the local waste stream. The groups consist of students from a range of design disciplines, including visual communication and textile/fashion design, so the range of solutions should be interesting, and from the few ideas I heard, will mainly focusing of designing services around waste re-use.


Ethical Fashion Forum’s SOURCE EXPO 2010

Last week two of TED’s PhD students (Jen Ballie and Matilda Aspinall) attended the Ethical Fashion Forum’s SOURCE EXPO 2010.
The SOURCE EXPO aimed to promote sustainable fashion practices and facilitate sustainable sourcing amongst fashion professionals. The exhibition showcased a selection of work from suppliers and manufacturers from all over the world, working to promote fair trade and ethical standards, linking them with hundreds of designers, retailers and brands.
A series of seminars were also scheduled throughout the day, and we attended the ‘Innovation’ seminar to learn about the latest inspirational products and processes in the sourcing sector. This was chaired by Emily Pearce, EFF’s Ethical Fashion Project Manager, with speakers from Initiate Design, Bag it Don’t Bin It and Pants to Poverty. The work of Susanne Lee (Biocouture) and PUMA SAFE - Clever Little Bag was also introduced.
Each speaker introduced their innovativion by explaining their design concept, how their product was made and any additional services. We were impressed at the range of challenging design approaches adopted by each speaker. The subjects discussed explored local production and cottage industries, cradle to cradle design through closed loop methodologies and crowdfunding.
The session explored how design could be coupled with innovation to create desirable products that were both useable and engaging. The end user played a central focus through each strategy and they tried to engage users by encouraging participation, supporting well-being and promoting social values.
This event has scaled up since last year and attracted a massive audience. It was exciting to see designer’s working in new ways to scale up sustainable design.


Roundtable Discussion, EFS Paris

Last week's roundtable discussion proved to be an interesting experience for TED member Becky Earley. Eleven designers / experts were on the platform at the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris, for two hours, discussing new textile technologies and their potential for creating more sustainable products.

The discussion began with a presentation by designer Florence Bost who gave a succinct overview of the fields of study and activity - a kind of history of smart textiles – which briefly covered the 1940s to the present day. The other speakers, each talking about their work in turn for five minutes, addressed:

Interaction design and smart clothing (Francesca Rosella, Cute Circuit)

Upcycling textiles and technologies (Becky Earley, TED)

LED / wind sensitive textiles (Stijn Ossevort)

Detailing menswear to prolong life (Doris Hartwich)

How luxury brands are building a new materials resource to help them with product design innovation (Alexandre Cappelli, speaking about Louis Vuitton)

PUMA’s better shoebox concept – a fabric bag – and the lifecycle analysis project (Karsten Bleymehl, Material ConneXion)

The current state of fibre development and impacts through manufacture and usage (Michael Kininmonth, Lenzing Fibers)

Carbon detecting textiles and the The Climate (CO2) Dress (Hanne Louise Johannesen, Diffus)

Fashion aromachology and our future well being (Dr Jenny Tillotson)

Artistic material explorations (Tzuri Gueta)

Questions from the floor ranged from concerns over the impacts from battery powered smart textiles at the end of life stage, to whether smart textiles were being used for ‘green washing’ by big brands.

It was a short but sweet session, and a real pleasure to hear from designers and experts who are passionate about the future of textiles. To end the roundtable Dr Isa Hofmann (chair) asked the experts to offer one word to the audience, a guiding principle if you like, to inspire progress and innovation. The words were:

Education… Reduce Waste… Dematerialise… Avoidance… Detailing… Accidental… Appreciation… Lifestyle… Well Being… Desireability...

Image: TED’s summary slide from the Worn Again / Ever & Again project, 2010


TED Member Clara Vuletich is off to Australia next week and will be giving some lectures and a few workshops at various places in Sydney and Melbourne.

Clara will be running a workshop on 'Digital Craft' techniques to the textile/fashion students at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) on Tuesday 12th October, and then a lecture on the sustainable fashion communities in London, on Wednesday 13th October. This is part of their programme 'Waste in the City', run by Prof. Marie O'Mahony.

Then to Melbourne, and Clara will be giving a lecture on the Upcycling Textiles project at Harvest Textiles and a one day workshop on screen-printed printed wallpaper.

Finally, Clara will head to RMIT and present the TED work to the textiles department staff on Tuesday 19th October.

Clara will be sending regular blog updates of her Australian adventures.


TED Designers Featured in new Eco Fashion Book

Becky Earley and Kate Goldsworthy are featured in Sass Brown's new book about sustainable fashion, titled 'Eco Fashion' and published by Lawrence King this month.

Becky and Kate collaborated on two shirts in 2008, as part of the Top 100 and Ever & Again projects. The over-printed and laser treated polyester garments represent an approach they termed 'twice upcycled'. You can learn more about the project at www.upcyclingtextiles.net, and of course in Sass Brown's new book...

"Brown’s remarkable overview of ecological and socially responsible work deals with the subject of sustainability in fashion in a way that for once does justice to the true diversity of the pioneering and entrepreneurial work done within a field too much engaged in sustaining models and practices from which there may be nothing or little to sustain. It is bold attempt to encourage real change in fashion."

Dr. Clemens Thornquist, Chair of Fashion Design at Boras, Sweden


The audio from the TED Summer Debate that took place back in July is now finished and available here.

Four speakers were asked to argue for and against the motion that 'Sustainable Design in the Real World is just an Educator's fantasy....'.

The four speakers were Kieren Jones (RCA recent graduate), Claire Brass (Seed Foundation), Sandy McLennan (CLASS) and Dr Otto von Busch (fashion hacktivist).

Round Table Discussion at the Ethical Fashion Show, Paris

Becky Earley will be contributing to a round table discussion next Monday, 27th September 2010, at the
Ethical Fashion Show in Paris. She will be talking about upcycling textiles and the creative and innovative approaches that the TED designers explored through the Ever & Again project.

"Sustainable management is no longer a marginal phenomenon; it has become the starting point for companies that wish to reposition themselves by fully accepting the responsibilities they carry for the environment and for society...

"Textile innovation is unequivocally compatible with the principles of sustainable management. The round table on innovation aims to prove that the new technologies and the innovative new materials in the field of intelligent textiles that have appeared during the last decade are compatible with the criteria of sustainable management (social and environmental responsibility).”

Dr Isa Hofmann, quoted above, is an expert in the field of new, innovative textile technologies. She will lead the session, and will be joined by:

Florence Bost, textile designer based in Paris

Michael Kininmonth, Lenzing Fibers

Hanne Louise Johannesen, Danish design company Diffus

Francesca Rosella, founder of CuteCircuit

Stijn Ossevort, wearable computing

Karsten Bleymehl, Director Library & Materials Research Material ConneXion Cologne

Alexandre Cappelli, Head of Environment Affairs Department, LVMH

Doris Hartwich, German designer of menswear

and Tzuri Gueta, textiles designer

For those of you who will be in Paris next Monday, the discussion will take place between 2pm and 4pm at -

Cité de la Mode et du Design

34, Quai D’Austerlitz

75013 Paris

TED's D(urability)-Day

D-DAY! Friday 17th September 2010: After being inspired by the Martin Marjiela exhibition in the summer, TED staff decided to put their money where their mouths, or rather hands are, and get eco-creative in the print room at Chelsea. With reference to the beautiful white washed work on show at Somerset House, Kay Politowicz designed a day for TED's practice-based researchers to explore garment durability concepts using print techniques.

Garments: We were asked to dig around the bottom of our wardrobes over the summer, and come into college with clothes and accessories that we no longer wore. Some had stains on them, some were ripped and torn beyond repair, and some were 'freebies' deemed too ugly to wear. Others things that we brought in were too small, too big, too moth eaten, or simply too dull to be loved!

Techniques: We decided to keep it simple - white pigment and opaque binder, silver / gold / white / black foils, flocking paper - and use direct application techniques like hand painting, rollers, and open screens and stencils. The idea was to experiment to find simple, quick, but visually arresting ways to reinvent the clothes.

Outcomes: In the space of a few hours we came up with some really beautiful pieces. The things that caught my eye included the items pictured here...

Frances's unworn grey shirt printed with a stencil with opaque white
Kay's stained orange jumper rollered with glue and then foiled
Clara's plain white summer dress printed with an open screen and then foiled

Watch this space for the next installment - where we explore the ideas further by all remaking a set of identical items from a high street source - the next D-Day will take place in December 2010.


TED member Mel Bowles has some of her lovely digital shibori scarves in the new Lab Craft exhibition, organised by the Crafts Council showing at Tent London next week, 23rd - 26th September.

Lab Craft features 26 makers who combine craft techniques with cutting-edge digital technologies such as rapid prototyping, laser cutting, laser scanning and digital printing. Other designers being shown included Tord Boontje, digital weaver Ismini Samandiou, and one of Mel's recent students
Chae Yong Kim, who works with digital software to develop beautiful, ethereal patterns for wallpapers and fabrics.

For her digital shibori, Mel reinterprates the traditional Shibori techniques using digital media by manipulating complex mathematical graphic geometrics to create light effects, folds and blends.


I was at the Crafts Council's annual conference a few weeks ago, Assemble, where there was an interesting line up of speakers, including Martin Raymond from trend forecasters Future Laboratory, Emily Campbell from the RSA and a wonderful talk from Matthew B Crawford who has written the recent NYT best seller The Case for Working with Your Hands; Why Office Work is Bad for You and Fixing Things Feels Good .

Raymond was there to offer insight into the consumer market for craft, which apparently is doing quite well considering the economic recession. However, he made a rallying cry to makers everywhere that they need to become much more visible with their skills and expertise. He noted that he had recently been to see fashion brand Louis Vuitton, who are planning on having craftspeople working in their shop on Bond Street, making bespoke products. Craft and authenticity have been the words used to describe a new 'luxury' for a while now, but it's not enough anymore for consumers to know something has been made by hand and with great skill - they want to actually see it being made in front of them.

He made a plea to makers to try to win this territory and to see this as a unique opportunity to work with brands and retailers. As Guardian journalist Libby Brooks describes it in her review of the conference, this is where brands are 'appropriating the operative language of craft'. Of course, this is not to everyone's taste, and I sensed a note of dismay from certain makers who would never dream of getting involved with luxury brands, let alone have the marketing skills that would get them noticed.

But, ironically it seems that consumers are actually becoming more inclined to buy craft and less inclined to buy luxury goods and that overall spending on craft appears to be holding up better than spending on luxury goods, art and design. This came from a report that the Craft Council have commissioned which showed that craft is seen as being more 'genuine' and 'personal' than luxury/art/design and that luxury in particular, is starting to have negative connotations such as being 'too expensive' and being too concerned with status.
Hopefully this will help the craft market in benefiting from this strong consumer trend for authenticity and connoisseurship.


We have just uploaded some new podcasts that capture the work of three of our BA graduates from this year, as a 'taster' to the fabulous new content that will be available on our new website which is coming soon!

Becky Earley is in conversation with the graduates as they discuss their final year work and research topics. Katherine Redman (images above) talks about designing bespoke woven car interiors for car lovers, Lauren T Franks discusses her explorations of the ethics of materials and fibres, and Bridget Harvey reflects on what 'slow design' means to her and her studio practice.
These three students were chosen as they reflect the rich and diverse approaches to sustainability that we teach here at Chelsea, whether it be through fashion or interior textiles. The students become 'experts' in taking the sustainable design ideas we encourage them to explore and trying them out through their studio practices.


More feedback from our Summer Debate last month:

"The talk was very insightful, particularly the discussions about designers and scientists needing to have a closer relationship and more collaborations. I was also interested in what Otto von Busch said about the increased need for emotion in design - not a revelation, but so relevant as (it seems) being ecologically sound in production will not be enough in the long term.

Kieran Jones's comments about designing for a geographically and physically changing world and not just making it a greener one, was also an I idea I'd like to explore further..." Alison Gough, Stylus Trends Consultancy

Image: Kieren Jones


The work of several TED Members including Becky Earley, Melanie Bowles and Clara Vuletich is to be included in an exhibition called reTHINK! at the Audax Textile Museum in Tilberg, Holland.

The exhibition will be exploring the lifecycle of textiles from a sustainability perspective and will include examples from fashion, interior and product design. other designers being showcased include Christien Meindertsma, Atelier NL, Suzanne Lee and Kate Goldsworthy.

Becky Earley will be making a new piece of work based on her Top 100 series over the summer so watch this space!


We have had some great feedback from participants at the Agenda's debate a few weeks ago, and while we wait to get the audio edited and transcripts available, the conversation continues:

"I thought the event was stimulating and thought provoking, as usual. On a practical level for undergraduates trying to engage with sustainability, I am most interested in the possibilities offered by synthetic fibres - for their potential for more efficient dye-sublimation printing processes, and in terms of end of lifecycle recycling possibilities. The potential of 'upcycling' and re-working vintage pieces / creating 'vintage' for the future is also of interest." Claire Lerpiniere, De Montfort University

It is great to hear how different tutors are taking different and unique approaches to these issues.
Image: TED Interconnected Design Workshop, Berlin


Can designer's help make a better world?

We recently attended the Designing a Better World Symposium at Northumbria University in Newcastle. There were all the usual discussions about how designer's can contribute to social change and to solving the environmental challenges we currently face.

There was also lots of talk of the value of collaboration and how designers will need to work outside their specialist area to tackle these multiple challenges. Jason Bruges and Julia Lohmann, both designers who work across disciplines, talked of the value of collaboration but also made the point that design education does not currently prepare students to work in this way.

Jason describe this kind of designer as a 'hybrid', able to remain a specialist while also remaining open and gathering expertise and knowledge from other areas. He also made the point that, even if we do start to train students in this way, and to consider new ways to approach their role as designers, the jobs dont exist for them. We are training people for the unknown!

This relates to Becky Earley's presentation at our Agendas debate last Friday, about our approach to embedding sustainable design thinking into courses. Here at Chelsea, we teach students new ways to be a textile designer, adding activism and lifecycle thinking under their belts, but then they get out into the real world and are met with a 'ceiling' - there are not enough jobs that exist which can take advantage of this new sort of design activity.

An another note, the highlight from the Northumbria Symposium was Josephine Green's Keynote speech . Green works in what she calls 'social foresight' and has worked at Philips Design for fifteen years. Can designers help make a better world ? She believes, yes if there is a deep purpose behind what design does, and that it is 'sense making'. But no, if we continue with the current industrial production model, and don't move beyond just designing products.

Image: Julia Lohmann


Summer debate continues on-line

Thank you to everyone who came along to the Agendas Debate last Friday. We had a great turn out and some really lively discussions.

The audio from the four speakers will be available shortly, so stay tuned!

We are keen to continue the discussions that came up at the Debate and would like to announce our plan of action! - in the next few weeks over the summer, we will be encouraging you to contribute your thoughts and ideas on the discussion. Then in September, we will offer our own TED summary of the event and the follow-on conversation.

If you attended the event - what did your notebooks say? What were the main points you got out of the discussion?

Or, if you didn't attend the event, but would like to have - what burning question have you got? Do you beleive that sustainable design is just an educator's fantasy?

Some of the key points for me were:

Is the role of the textile designer to stay in the studio creating lovely fabrics, or is their a wider role for us that involves activism as well ? If so, how do we teach this?

If sustainability is such a complex area, that requires cross-discplinary collaboration (as is so often quoted!) why are we not equipping our design students to learn in this way?

All your thoughts and questions are welcome!

More images of the event here .


Final two speakers announced for Summer Debate

We have now confirmed our final two speakers for the debate on Friday:

Sandy MacLennan has worked in textile design innovation for more than 25 years as a consultant to fibre producers, spinners, manufacturers, brands and retailers through his consultancy East Central Studios in London. He also works with education as a visiting lecturer at the RCA and Chelsea and as an external examiner on BA and MA courses. In 2007, Sandy co-founded CLASS a consultancy and network that promotes sustainable textiles and fashion to industry.

Clare Brass is the founder of the SEED Foundation, a social enterprise that explores and promotes new design approaches to meet the challenges of sustainability. Leader of Sustainability at Design Council until 2007, Clare is currently part-time senior tutor at Design London, with students from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College Business and Engineering, addressing issues of sustainability and social enterprise.

It promises to be a really lively and informative event. Remember, no need to RSVP, just turn up for 2pm at Chelsea!