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.