Research Event

An event to support and provide active networking opportunities for UK M Phil and Ph D students engaged in fashion and textiles related research.

‘Textiles for Disassembly: Design for Disassembly and Recyclability for Blends in a Circular Economy’ (Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London)

Key words (4)  Design for Disassembly; Textile Design; Circular Economy; Recycling

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

Blended materials are recognised as a hindrance to recycling and a cause for loss of quality in fibre to fibre recycling processes (Cupit, 1996; Östlund et al., 2017). In a circular economy, for resources to be efficiently recovered and regenerated, contamination between materials which belong in separate end-of-life streams must be avoided. Solutions to this issue have been suggested through mono-material approaches (Goldsworthy, 2012; Gulich, 2006), however, this research suggests that the combination of different materials involved in the creative textile design process should be maintained (Dormer, 1997; Koestler, 1989). Therefore, design for disassembly strategies – the design of materials or products which can easily be separated into recyclable components (International Organization for Standardization, 2016; Vezzoli and Manzini, 2008), mainly established in the field of products and electrical devices, have been adapted to textile design practice to enhance the recyclability of blends.

The outcome of the research provides proof that DfD can be applied at the textile scale within blended materials that allow for ease of recyclability of their different components. Moreover, it shows how the application of such techniques within a circular fashion garment concept can help in scripting new production and consumption scenarios for circular futures.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

This practice research uses making as a key method. The hands-on processes are applied in four ways: making visualisations and models of blends, making to test disassembly, and making prototypes. In each case the thought process was guided by the results of sampling. This experimentation and its documentation demonstrates the effect of a circular economy brief as a challenge to the usually brief-averse (Igoe, 2013) practice of textile design.

‘(Re) designing conservation: capturing designer intent in the  archiving of new materials, e-textiles and wearables’  (Nottingham Trent University)

Key words (4): design conservation, designer intent, textiles, new materials

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

This research is exploring how to capture the designer’s intent, as part of contemporary design conservation. The main research question is how to conserve the designer’s intent, in addition to the designed artefact? Smart systems, e-textiles and biodegradable materials follow alternative production methods in contrast to traditional manufacturing processes, meaning new concepts; materials and materiality have entered heritage fashion collections. Contemporary designers, such as Martin Margiela, Hussien Chalayan and Raf Simmons, explore emerging materials and smart technology, such as 3D printed materials and utilisation of electronic components; these pose many challenges for conservators who are required to think about the longevity of an artefact once it enters a heritage institution. This presentation will introduce the idea of conserving the designer’s intent when archiving new materials. This will platform new thinking in contemporary design conservation i.e. documenting an essential link between the designer and the designed artefact. This research will also have wider implications for curatorial work in relation to interpretations of emerging and new materials in a cultural heritage setting.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

Primary data will include surveys and interviews of textile conservators working with new materials to establish current knowledge, challenges and hence raising questions related to conserving emerging materials. The intersection of the designer’s intent, design conservation and the development of new materials, e-textiles and wearables will be analysed through hermeneutical enquiry. A combination of phenomenological and cognitive science will be used to analyse primary data collected during this research.

‘Fallout Fashion: design frameworks for upscaling whole product upcycling’ (UAL/CCW)

Key words (4) Upcycling, circular economy, sustainability, textiles

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

10-20% of pre-consumer textiles is suggested to be ‘wasted’ during garment manufacture (Lau, 2015), and a further 300,000 tonnes of post-consumer textiles is sent to landfill each year (WRAP, 2017, p.25), highlighting the sizable issue of textile waste in the fashion industry. Currently 540,000 tonnes of the post-consumer waste is collected, 70% of which is exported (WRAP, 2012, p.12), while pre-consumer waste is mainly incinerated, often in unregulated facilities. There are many micro designers utilising textile waste as a resource, predominantly post-consumer. Despite this viable resource, it is difficult to work to scale due to the buoyant international trade in second hand clothing. Those working with pre-consumer are limited due to tight brand protection with manufacturing facilities. This research looks to understand where the barriers and opportunities exist to upcycle this product and design frameworks to facilitate this.

By reflecting on knowledge gained while working with post-consumer waste, the aim is to identify methods and opportunities to upscale. Extracting tacit knowledge and by conducting interviews with experts from the industry, the aim is to develop design frameworks to support upcycling of product fallout. This will then be tested through practice led – iterative cycles, to draw learnings through first internal making, then external workshops. Using these understandings in upcycling post-consumer waste, will lead to a live project with a manufacturing facility utilising pre-consumer waste.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

This project seeks to use methods from the practice that the candidate has developed in upcycling, along with original collated data from experts in the field. This will inform practice-led artefacts that outline the potential for scalable frameworks suitable for industry. Ultimately this will feed into the external facing project that will test the viability of upscaling upcycling. Each time using iterative cycles and practice led and practice-based research to draw innovation and findings for this research. 

‘Blending In: Blending mechanically recycled textile fibres towards future circular systems’   (University of the Arts London, Centre for Circular Design)

Key words (4): Blends, Mechanical-textile-recycling, Post-consumer waste, Industry systems

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

This research explores post-consumer fashion waste – the consumer has decided to discard – entering the current textile recycling system. Framed within a circular economy model, in which waste is seen as resource, this PhD focuses on the problematic area of blended textiles and the impacts these have on end-of-use recycling systems. This research examines mechanical recycling from a design perspective which has been cast aside, by both the industry and researchers alike, for newer advances such as chemical recycling. It places value across both approaches (mechanical and chemical) and builds on the whispers within current literature that both methods could work together towards a future circular system. Through industrial scale explorations this practice based research combines design and systems thinking to reject the traditional view of down-cycling and consider how blending, causing the the problem in the first place, could be used as a solution to retain value and avoid waste.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

The research methodology blends two approaches; industry field research and academic exploration to successfully investigate this topic. This is achieved by combining designerly field research – exploration and material sampling – with a range of analysis methods – reflected practise, annotated portfolio and visual thinking. Thus, a real-world research and systems thinking approach can be used to rigorously explore the industry-based problems with blended waste in mechanical textile recycling.

‘Health, Hygiene, Fitness: Modernism and the Swimsuit’ (Nottingham Trent University)

Key words (4): ‘Conjectural reconstruction’, ‘hand-knitted’, ‘swimming’, ‘sunbathing’.

Abstract (150 – 200 words)
The perfect swimsuit was as undifferentiated in its appearance on the body as the smooth concrete in the modernist architectural spaces that the swimmer inhabited during the interwar period. As architectural theorists Colomina and Wigley argue ‘Modern Architecture was a machine for enhancing the body’ (2016:167). Many companies competed to make the perfect knitted woollen garment for swimming and these were advertised as an ideal in magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. In contrast magazines such as ‘Home chat’, ‘Woman’s Weekly and knitting pattern companies promoted a glamourous image that was aspirational only.  I imagine very few hand-knitted garments achieved the perfectibility of the high-end manufactured ones in terms of wearability for swimming and sunbathing. In order to test this it is my intention to reconstruct a manufactured swimsuit from the archive at John Smedley Ltd in contrast with a carefully reconstructed hand knitted swimsuit. The paper will explore some of the problems and validations evidenced by undertaking material cultural analysis from conjectural reconstruction and gathering evidence through oral history.

Colomina B and Wigley M, (2016), are we human? notes on an archaeology of design, Zurich, Lars Muller Publishers.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

The conjectural reconstructions of the high quality manufactured swimsuit and the hand knitted version would be tested for performance, stretch and sag. These activities will be explored using material cultural analysis through the work of Latour, Bennett, Miller, and Woodward to give theoretical underpinning. Ethnographic and qualitative research methods would be used for oral histories as they favour open-ended questions and story-telling as opposed to quantitative methods.

‘Was Jesus the first supermodel? Worshiping the emaciated body in late medieval religious art and 1990’s heroin chic fashion photography: deconstructing the affective power of a deathly thin ideal with text and cloth’  (Glasgow School of Art)

Key words (4): Textiles, Practice-based research, the emaciated Idolized body, sublime

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

My research looks through a feminist lens at the emaciated body heralded in images of the late medieval crucified Christ and conflates it with our current beauty ideals. The subject matter asks for a multidisciplinary approach analyzing a prevailing aesthetic body image that proliferates from religion, mass media and high fashion markets. In this I am attempting to understand the emotional substance and emulative resonance transferred and curated cyclically by this near skeletal idol (Ahmed 2014: 8). The greater purpose is to address a long-term epidemic of negative self-image and unhealthy body practices observed in the developed world. With an increased access to social media and an interconnectedness globally the overly thin ideal has permeated previously untouched communities. Disordered eating and body impressions are surfacing and spreading beyond western society (Bordo 2006: lvii). It is becoming an existential crisis that can no longer be defined by age, gender, class or ethnicity (Wykes and Gunter 2004: 14). Comparing the visual examples of the medieval crucified Christ and the heroin chic supermodel I ask: What is the affective message and mimetic power embedded in the emaciated paradigm? Moreover, how can deconstructing the aesthetics of these images demystify and disrupt the inadvertent yet noxious influence.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

My PhD will be equally divided between dissertation and studio practice. Working simultaneously to intertextually weave written and research-creation to ensure each rigorously supports and justifies the outcomes. Conceived during my literature review, I am compiling a glossary of key terms which acts to enmesh established scholarly definitions with highly subjective cloth translations. These essential terms will transform to knitted, woven, embroidered and printed interpretations to express the ambiguous, beautiful yet repulsive essence of the source imagery.

‘A practice based response to re-energising the archive’ (UCA Farnham)

Key words (4): archive, fabric, interpretative object

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

My research focuses on the fabrics of the Parker Knoll furniture company manufactured between 1945 and 1955. Through a practice based response, I am seeking to re-animate the artefacts through the use of the Interpretative Object which will engage the viewer in a process of discovery that allows insights into the archive materials. My practice aims to shed light on the individual makers and employees who would have contributed to the process of the creation and sales of a single chair through examination of the component parts. The fabrics, upholstery cutting plans, chair design, promotional material and sales figures have become the starting points for material outcomes that can be reunited in a new form.

The Interpretative Object can be a link to the archive that provides insights into the production of the materials and into the context of their manufacture. It can also bring about a relationship for the viewer with the archive, and stimulate new methods for their own interpretation of the artefacts contained there.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

The methodology looks at the concept of re-animation, taking the theory of Jane Bennett who writes of all matter, both natural and man-made, having an energy which retains some inherent quality of the raw materials (Bennett 2010). We can examine a process in which this energy can be unlocked through a human intervention, allowing it to be shared with a wider audience.

‘What Happens to Fashion Practice When Child Happiness is the Inspiration?’  (Coventry University)

Key words (4):  Wellbeing / Experiential / Children / Design

Abstract (150 – 200 words)     

There is little existing research into how children would design for themselves in the area of Fashion. Other areas of design (including Interior, Architecture and Educational Software) have engaged with children who are the intended end user to help develop their product and concept, and to ensure positive impact on the child user as an outcome; however Fashion hasn’t yet adopted this approach. This PhD study seeks to engage with children between 8 and 12 years old and to explore how they visualise happiness through a series of structured workshops. The study aims to identify patterns in the visual language children use to explore happiness, joy and positivity and to apply these patterns to the design process through developing a range of conceptual and experimental wearable pieces intended for a child audience and wearer. The aim is to explore if the child wearer / audience of these pieces perceive them as happy or positive artefacts as a result.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

Existing findings in both Fashion and other design practices will be analysed through documentary analysis. Following this, primary qualitative data collection will take place through a series of creative workshops led by a pilot. It is anticipated that these workshops will include collaging and drawing activities focussed on representing happiness and positivity through both 2 dimensional, and 3 dimensional expression. Data collected through the workshops will be analysed for patterns and trends in representation with these findings being used in the design development process of wearable pieces.

‘Weaving with code: How can emotional experience be designed into digital woven jacquard textiles using coding?’ (Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University)

Key words (4): Emotional Experience, Co-design, Digital Coding, Digital Jacquard Woven Textiles

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

This study examines how sensory perception and digital coding in co-design work, can load digital jacquard woven textiles with emotional experience. It discusses current debates and literature on emotional experience in material culture, design and consumer behaviour disciplines, highlighting both the differences in the terminology used and the points of agreement. Notably that emotional experience is elicited through an emotional bond created between an object and a person, where the object is considered to be special and therefore triggers connections. The investigation is practice-based, and an iterative co-design process with participants informs the making and research. Key digital jacquard woven textiles that influence the practice are BeatWoven (2009) and Glitch Textiles (2012) due to the incorporation of digital coding into textile practice, alongside Abstract_ (2015) and Woven Memories (2016), which use digital coding as a co-design and participatory interactive tool. In addition, the study explores the benefits and limitations of introducing digital coding in the discipline of woven textiles to load emotional experience, thus creating a hybrid design methodology. A final exhibition will show textiles, co-designed with participants, in order to display the methodology and final outcomes of the research.  

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

This practice-based research has a qualitative method to gather and analyse data, understood as the exploration and construction of a deeper and meaningful picture of the participant’s experience and vision of the world (Muratovski, 2016). The Repertory Grid Technique, a participatory analysis tool created by the American psychologist George Kelly in 1955, is adopted to explore and evaluate the emotional experience with the digital jacquard textiles and the use of co-design process using digital coding.

‘Enzymatic coloration of wool and flax textile fabrics’ (De Montfort University)

Key words (4): Wool, Flax, Textile coloration, Enzyme peroxidase, 

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

The colour of textiles for clothes and upholstery is a key factor for inspiration and attraction when appealing to the consumer, and can enhance the characteristics of the textile product. Conventional textile coloration processing has many drawbacks due to a high consumption of water and energy and generating effluent into the water supply. Water based pollution is an ongoing challenge in the textile industry. Therefore, the improvement of textile coloration processes to be more environmentally friendly is considered. This research aims to develop novel textile coloration for wool and flax fabrics using the enzymatic catalysation with lower temperature and neutral pH condition without causing fibre damage. The enzyme, peroxidase, will play an important role in develop bioprocesses for wool and flax coloration. A range of colours and shades on wool and flax fabrics have been achieved through enzyme-based bioprocessing using peroxidase, leading to novel and creative textile design.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

The novel methods of enzyme peroxidase-catalysed coloration processes for wool and flax was investigated and developed for the optimum condition. Wool and flax fabrics were dyed using enzyme peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide in the presence of selective colourless precursor. The colourless precursor transformation is oxidised by enzyme peroxidase and hydrogen peroxide to generate colourants with different shades and hues without the addition of conventional dye stuff.

‘Soft: a textile design approach to crafting smart textiles for extreme condition environments’ (Royal College of Art)

Key words (4): Smart textiles, explorative textile design research, interdisciplinary, material innovation

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

The discipline of textiles is changing. Textile designers are beginning to theorise their work as distinct in processes to those of other design disciplines (Igoe, 2013); highlighting innovative practices at the edge of the discipline (Philpott & Kane, 2016, Winters, 2016 and Paine, 2015). This is resulting in various interdisciplinary methods and methodologies born out of textile design becoming illuminated. Through the externalisation of tacit and embodied textile knowledge, (arising as textile designers turn towards the sciences in search of new challenges and territories in which to apply their skills), textile design approaches are made known. When applied to textiles that can sense, communicate and actuate, ‘soft’ approaches can advance not only the discipline of textile design itself but also offer unique perspectives on a burgeoning field of research in smart textiles and advanced materials for extreme condition environments. Until recently, textile design has generally been considered as ‘soft’, largely resting within the archetypal qualities of the feminine, such as being rooted in emotional, intuitive and aesthetic responses. Material science, on the other hand, has generally been considered ‘hard’, framed in the masculine and the measured, aligned to the rigorous, analytical and nonshifting nature of fact. As these two areas of textile design and material science are increasingly interwoven we see increasing developments and material innovations made through interdisciplinary practices. However, a binary approach of either/ or is not an effective lens through which to view and analyse practices at the intersection of textile design and material science. Rather, it is an openminded and flexible approach that is required to reframe ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ as unbounded by context, oppositional or static, but instead as entangled. This research through practice, suggests that this entangling and enmeshing of textile design and material science, (resulting in physical outcomes, methods and methodologies), is imperative for the generation of contemporary material knowledge and innovation— specifically within the field of smart textiles for extreme condition environments.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

Using a mixed-methods approach this research explores both loose, unbounded approaches to the exploration of new and unfamiliar materials (to the textile designer) — towards no specific brief beyond exploring the materials and their properties—and more structured material developments for specific applications in the field of smart textiles for extreme condition environments, such as base layers that can monitor the health of nuclear decommissioning operators or astronauts in space.

‘3D print on the textile Fabric’ (De Montfort University)

Key words (4): 3D printing, Textile Design, Adhesion, Assembly

Abstract (150 – 200 words)

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the adhesion of PLA polymer material printed directly onto wool, and polyester fabrics using entry-level fused deposition modelling (FDM) machines.

The PLA polymer showed excellent results when printed on the two types of fabrics (wool and polyester), having a great adhesion and giving a high quality of print by creating different levels between the nozzle and platform to achieve accurate results.

This research supports work on wearable 3D designs by supporting excellent attachments between the 3D design and fabrics with utmost quality of print via combining additive PLA polymer on textiles. The deposition of polymer and textiles will contribute to new real-world applications such as orthopaedic braces for medical usage or for manufacturing 3D products such as 3D straps, accessories and shoes.

Methodology (60 – 70 words)

Simple designs of decorative parts were implemented to investigate the attachment between the 3D designs and fabrics. Different shapes and structures were designed using SketchUp tool, a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) tool, to examine whether 3D designs could be printed directly onto the surface of fabrics, while sustaining a good adhesion and quality print. The structures were fabricated using an entry-level FDM printer with PLA on wool and polyester fabrics. The attachment of printing results was investigated by SEM and tensile tests. The results were recorded according to three parameters – the warp, bond, and print quality before comparing the data sets.

Wednesday 1th May 2019, at UAL, Centre for Circular Design. E117, First Floor, E Block, 16 John Islip Street, London SW1P 4JU.

Please register at reception, A Block, which is the entrance on Atterbury Street (the side facing the Tate  Britain, near the river end of the street). You will get a name badge and be collected from the canteen area by a member of the team.