Monday, 9 July 2012

24 Hours of Textiles

At Midsummer this year we had the pleasure to host Swedish and Danish MISTRA Future Fashion (MiFuFa) researchers in London for our 24hrs Textiles events at CSM and Chelsea.
The first day started with a tour of the MA Textile Futures show at CSM, led by Caroline Till, and finished with a seminar session entitled When Scientists meet Designers, featuring Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg and Jim Haseloff, chaired by Carole Collet, Deputy Director of TFRC. The lectures concluded with a conversation between the speakers that also included Asa Ostlund, the MiFuFa Deputy Director.

The seminar was perfectly in tune with our four year MiFuFa project. Asa says that 'the driving question that all parties (scientists, designers and industry) have in common within MiFuFa is to reach sustainability in fashion. This is challenging both for designers, social scientists and natural scientists'. Asa pointed out how this relationship between designers and scientists needs to be nurtured in following ways:
• “The way that designers and scientists work together is often an iterative process where the scientists have the knowledge about new materials and the designers have a curiosity and urge to use new interesting materials and explore their possibilities. This process has to be cyclical; material coming from the scientist gets tested by the designer, who gives feedback on what to improve, and the scientist modifies the material to respond to the designer’s request.
• “Scientists often an extra push and new energy into their research when working together with the designer.
• “Regarding the modification of fabrics, such as coloring, printing, or mixing materials together, this process should preferably be done in discussion with a scientist to be able to reach the goals of sustainability. This is important when aiming for recycling the fabrics after use and to be able to close the loop of recycling all textile materials.
• “Both the scientist and the designer can reach new unexplored areas when working together and broadening their view with the other person's vision and experience.”

After an evening of networking and ideas swopping by the Regents Canal, the researchers continued the next morning with a breakfast tour of the Chelsea degree shows. At 11am the group began a workshop with TFRC Director Rebecca Earley – where participants were asked to arrive as sustainable fashion consumers, then become designers, before taking an advisors role. We tried the new TED’s TEN work books out, and asked everyone to make their particular recommendations for achieving systemic change.

The following day after the 24 hours of events we continued brainstorming MiFuFa research with Kirsti Reitan Andersen and Sarah Bly from Copenhagen Business School. Sarah is part of Project 7 looking at sustainable consumption of fashion, while Kirsti is a PhD student from Project 1, focusing on new sustainable business models in fashion companies. We talked about how the TED workshops had explored several important themes over the last five years, and we worked on ideas to reflect and explore these further through co-authoring a paper or chapter in the future.
Our discussions felt like we were beginning to see how to close the loop in engaging with sustainable design in companies, as future fashion needs to push a synergy between the designers, the consumers, and the company. Watch this space for further collaborations in the Autumn…

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