Earley, Rebecca (2011) Upcycling textiles: adding value through design. In: KEA's Towards Sustainability in the Fashion and Textiles Industry, 26th - 27th April 2011, Copenhagen. (Unpublished)
|Type of Research:||Conference, Symposium or Workshop Item|
The TED/AHRC funded Worn Again project (2005 – 2010) asked twelve designers to create recycled textile products that would have value added to them in the course of recirculation. All the research questions were concerned with exploring new approaches to the recycling of textiles; designing and producing artefacts with strong aesthetic appeal that were contemporary and innovative, and that had improved eco credentials. The project intended to explore both the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ aspects of eco textile design, with the established principles of material and processes being considered, but also the technical and conceptual ideas. This paper reflects upon: the research questions; the research methodologies utilised and developed; and the concepts that were developed by the designers in order to arrive at a definition of the upcycling of textiles, and a set of guiding principles for best practice. The paper concludes with visions for future practice, including the Twice Upcycled work which explores forward recycling concepts for the polyester economy.
The research questions were:
•Ethical Production - How can designers work with ethical production values and systems to create a recycled textile product?
•Technology - How can new engineering technologies be used to create recycled textile products?
•Long Life / Short Life, or ‘Fast’ and ‘Slow’ Textiles - How can recycled materials help lengthen and shorten the life of a textile product thereby promoting resource efficiency?
•Design Systems and Services - How can new systems and services around textile recycling and recycled products be designed and implemented?
•Multifunction and Detachability – How can designers design textiles and textile products that have multiple uses and detachable elements, thereby promoting resource efficiency and product longevity?
•Design Activism – How can textile designers redefine and extend their role within the design community and consumer society?
The outcomes for the project included textile product prototypes which ‘rethought’ recycling textiles, through innovative practice and good design, often in collaboration with internal and external partners. Some of the prototypes and samples realised the importance of mono materiality, and the role that engineering technologies can have here. New laser applications eradicated the need for glue and adhesives, and achieved surface effects that cannot be created else where. Others realised and demonstrated that multiple lives and recycling can occur and be pre determined. The impacts of digital print, and over printing in sequential stages were also explored. Concepts relating to the ethical, emotional and systemic were integrated during a second ‘redesign’ stage of the project. The designers explored ideas about upcycling rather than recycling, and the project has been recognised as a leading influence in this field, recognising early on how important this approach is in terms of the economic viability of the reuse of textiles. The project explored how the designer is central to textiles ‘upcycling’.
The guiding principles derived from the outcomes of the Worn Again project include: the consideration for the hierarchy of recycling; aesthetics and the design of upcycled textiles that are ‘better’ than the original; the generation of alternative and supporting actions; making enlightened material choices; understanding the different implications of using pre consumer and post consumer waste; the design for future recyclability, and if possible, future upcycling; the consideration of monomateriality, detachability, and the incorporation of the aging process; the design of textiles with zero waste; the design of textiles to maximise the benefits of the product; the consideration for scale - small is beautiful, and start local, but think global.
A final question emerged late on in the project from the research methodologies that had been developed through group workshops and tutorials for professional designers: How can designers combine eco-design principles, through workshop scenarios, to create new concepts for the creation of upcycled textile products and services? TED’s TEN – design strategies and workshops that promote interconnected design thinking – were the answer, and continue to be a way for TED to communicate and inspire designers at all stages of their careers.
|Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed:||upcycling, sustainable design strategies, design thinking|
|Your affiliations with UAL:||Colleges > Chelsea College of Arts
Research Centres/Networks > Textiles Futures Research Centre (TFRC)
|Date:||27 April 2011|
|Date Deposited:||07 Mar 2012 12:33|
|Last Modified:||04 Sep 2015 20:57|
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