Beauty and sustainability

The BA Textiles Graduate Show here at Chelsea last week was a real triumph of talent and new ideas and techniques. There was also evidence of some really strong sustainable design concepts, mainly hidden from view (as they often are!) but the ideas and concepts the students have been developing over their time here at Chelsea was so exciting to see.

Here at TED we believe passionately that textiles and objects/garments have to be beautiful and well made first and foremost. The 'sustainability' of how a garment or fabric is designed and produced is obviously important but if the final piece does not engage us, or inspire us, there is no point. You could say the ideal is 'human-centred, low impact' textile/fashion design!

Another aspect of this design approach, is that the 'sustainability' of a design or concept is about how the designer thinks - not just in their choice of 'eco' fabrics or re-use of materials. At TED we base all our research on this notion - aware that over 80% of our decisions as designer's affect the environmental impacts of a product, but also re-thinking the role of our designs/textiles in people's lives, and our role as designers.

This can be explored in a multitude of ways - which is what the ideas behind many of the works on show at the Graduate Exhibition revealed. Can a designer become a design facilitator in a country like India, to work promoting the traditional, craft skills while also bringing new opportunities and markets to local communities? Can a designer bring her innate skill and hand techniques to create new, delicate fibres from waste plastic while also communicating an old cultural tradition of thrift and resourcefulness?

We have done some interviews again this year of some of the Graduates who have been exploring our idea of sustainable textile design, and these will be edited and developed into podcasts soon.

Top image: Imogen Houldsworth, Bottom image: Jo Fowles


Future Fashion comes to London

Last week we hosted 14 of the researchers who are part of our new research project, MISTRA Future Fashion. We had two days of workshops and discussions and heard from each of the eight different Projects within the consortium.

There is a group of social scientists and economists from Copenhagen Business School specialising in sustainable consumption; political scientists from Malmo University, who will be exploring the policy structures around making the fashion industry more sustainable; a group of fibre technologists who are developing a new sustainable fibre based on a viscose process and other researchers from Swerea/IVF and Konsfact.

TED ran a 'Speed Dating Workshop' for the group of researchers to get to know one another and to begin to explore and map the multi-disciplinary nature of the project and how we will all work together.

We are the design element within the project and will be using our TED's TEN to plug into the new research being generated throughout the project - creating new design concepts and garments.


Slow Summit event

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

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

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

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

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


Forward and Up

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

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

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

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

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