Seminar 1

In this seminar we shared our personal research from the last two lectures through a short powerpoint Presentation. I found this interesting because of the mixture of students from Textile design, Interior and spacial design and Graphics, which meant that there was research into areas of study that I personally may not have explored otherwise.

There were several ideas discussed that were useful to my own research as there is much overlap throughout the study of sustainability and design. There were a couple of presentations that concentrated on a zero waste approach to design, an area of study that is very relevant to textiles, due to the waste of lots of fabric and materials due to methods of construction. The company JOE O’NEILL claims that around 15% of the fabric used in a traditionally reduced agreement is wasted due to the pattern cutting process, because of this they designed a coat that cut be cut entirely from a piece of fabric with zero excess fabric. This meant that each pattern piece was meticulously designed so that it fitted together on a single piece of fabric like puzzle pieces, but when constructed, had all of the same functionalities and qualities of a regular coat/jacket.

I think that this strategy to minimalist waste in production of clothing could be a key development in sustainability. This could save companies a lot of monies forth of fabric, if they concentrated more on this approach to construction.

Similarly to this idea,Christien Meindertsma’s Flax chair has a similar no waste design but also uses biodegradable materials.The chair is made from flax fibres along with sugar cane/ corn starch, and is cut from on panel. Firstly the seat part of the chair is cut and bent into shape, then the chair legs are formed from the remainders of the panel, which are again bent and formed into shape. Meinderstam’s design relates to both cyclability and zero waste strategies to sustainability, which Is shows innovation in design and a positive approach towards a more sustainable future.…/christien-meindertsma-flax-chair-furniture-design-biodegradable-dutch-design-week-2016-awards.

Another student discussed a design for a bus shelter that was foldable and promoted eco-living. This applied to the strategy of developing systems for the needs of the user. The bus shelter design that the student discussed could be folded away to optimise space and also act as an interactive eco-structure. I think that this is a good way to directly involve people with sustainability projects in a way that could educate a larger audience. As a whole I think there is a general lack of awareness  for environmental issues, especially within cities, where there is so much advertisement, yet most of this disregards any form of sustainability, relying mostly on consumerism. Areas such as Bus stops/shelters are areas used my people that are already contributing to a more sustainable lifestyle by using shared transport, so why not educate these people further by highlighting other issues, such as awareness of recycling and minimising waste, whilst also having a structure that benefits them directly in design, by being multi-purposeful.


Small changes, Big difference?- Disposable culture.

Working from the first two lectures on circular economy and the needs of the consumer, I decided to look at solutions to disposable products within the city. Living in London means that I see many disposable products used in mass each day, including; coffee cups, plastic cutlery, plastic bags, food packaging etc. My presentation explores some alternatives to the use of non recyclable materials, focusing on the use of mono materials and biodegradable materials. Please see power-point below.

solutions for disposables

After researching innovative solutions to disposable products, I looked at my day-to-day life and what already exists in terms of recyclable and biodegradable products/materials. Below are just a few examples that I found.

Swapping out polystyrene for recycled alternatives: Recyclable materials are an improvement on throw away culture, but still ultimately reach a point when they become no longer useable as the material has been weakened.  This is a material used in packaging, to insulate some chilled items that I received in a food box delivery.It is made from recycled plastic and is in its last useable use before it has no recyclable quality left.  I felt that this shows a step towards using sustainable packaging etc, but still could be improved, by using biodegradable alternatives, such as shredded paper.

Visual inspiration: At a recent food fair in my college, there were several stools that focused on promoting the ‘eco’ qualities of their products, as a big selling point. Looking at a more aesthetic approach to advertising recycling and up cycling could be a really great way to get a wider audience of people involved in making the effort to improve our throw away, consumer culture. 


This free leaflet was part of the promotion for a drink sold in my university canteen. It is very inspiring for both creative and non-creative people, as the up-cycling ideas are mostly very simple and straight forward. All the photos are very well-laid out and the look of the brochure is very appealing. 

Obvious instruction: This is a strategy that I feel could be implemented by a lot more businesses, in order for people to not be able to ignore. For people that are looking for a recycling logo, a lot of items are clearly marked. But I feel as though there are lots of products, food,packaging etc, that people assume or don’t think, to recycle. If there was more in your face recycling instructions or slogans, maybe more people would think to recycle rather than just put their rubbish in the closest bin?

Needs and Users

In this lecture we discussed strategies that can accommodate the needs of a user without sacrificing its sustainability.

Firstly I’m going to look at fast fashion; the need to follow trends . Fast fashion is aimed at both high end and high street buyers, meaning that the problem is wide spread throughout the industry. Fast fashion relies on consumerism- the need to consume, encouraged by advertisement and constant updating of what appears to be in or out of fashion. I feel as though a sense on individuality can be lost when everyone is trying to stay on trend in order to adhere to what they think they should look like and wear.

Lots of fashion brands are starting to work against fast fashion and instead focus on producing high quality products. I have found a brand from Cornwall (where I am from) that specialises in quality clothing, built to last. They are called Finisterre. They use quality materials, that include some from recycled sources (insulation in their jackets) to make long lasting coats, jackets, shirts, jumpers etc. They also have run a repairs service that can inject new life into older garments.

Carrying on the idea of repairing clothing in order to make it wearable for longer, I have discovered lots of mend and make do projects.  Celia Pym’s work at particularly interested me, because she uses knit to explore this strategy.  There is a very artistic quality to her work in the way that each piece looks like it has a narrative. There seems to be a life and story behind each item, which builds a relationship between the wearer and the clothing. This could be another strategy against fast fashion in the way that if the user builds up a relationship with an item of clothing, they are less likely to want to discard it, meaning it is kept for longer and worn for a longer period of time.


Kirsty Whitlock is an artist that has responded to consumerism and the throw away culture of today. Her work is very emotive in the use of recognisable logos and bright garish colours, reminding us of how in our face advertisement really is.This could also be considered as design activism. Whitlock uses discarded materials and recycles them to make art work that works against consumerism.  Fine art is generally made to be kept for many many years, which in itself works against consumer culture, but here Whitlock responds to consumer culture by marrying together disposable items with the context of a treasured fine art piece.

Materials and the Circular Economy

When looking at modern consumer culture it is clear how little we integrate strategies for a circular economy. In turn this leads to many of our environmental problems. This is because of the take → make → dispose system which works to create a linear economy. This means that we take raw materials, make them into something, then dispose them in a way that can’t re-generate another raw material. For example:      

Metals and oils are taken from a source, the oils are made into plastics and the metals are refined. They are then joined together to make a toaster. This toaster is then used for a few years and thrown away, but these materials cannot be separated and re-used so are put into landfill. This is known as a technical cycle. 

In opposition to this is the biological cycle which is a more natural process, of regeneration. For example :

A tree, which has grown from the nutrients in the ground, as well as sunlight etc. When this tree grows it absorbs from the earth beneath it, which then travels up and around the tree to supply growth. This then promotes the growth of leaves and fruit. The leaves and fruit will stop to the ground and rot down to produce an enriched soil, therefore supplying nutrients for the next cycle of growth. This is a circular system. 

This circular system is very sustainable because of the way that the previous yield supplies for the next. This is a step further towards sustainability from recycling. Recycling uses previously made materials and re-purposes them, but this cannot last inevitably because the materials that we recycle, such as glass and plastic weaken after time, become un-useable. This means that they ultimately end up in land fill, polluting land and see. Looking to a circular economy, materials that can bio-degrade and become a source for regeneration are the optimum sustainable solution.

One of the key issues in terms of recycling and cyclability is the use of multiple bonded components in one product, that cannot be separated for recycling or replacement. Products that can be disassembled, or that are made from mono materials (only one material) would help to enable the longer life of the object itself or the materials used to make it.

A company called Niaga have developed a way to produce carpet from 100% recoverable and recyclable materials. In the case study I have found about their work it claims that 85% of carpet materials end up in landfill. This is due to lack of recycling and the materials in which the carpets are made from (chemicals, plastics, etc). Niaga have created a carpet made up of two layers which are joined with a reversible adhesive, meaning that they can be easily seperated after use. From here they can then be regenerated into the materials to make fresh carpets again.

Using modular construction in design allows for parts of a product to be upgraded and changed if broken or in-need of replacement. This means that there is a design intention for this product to be restorative or regenerative, ultimately resulting in a much longer life of use, which results in less demand for production.

In 2012 a student from the Royal College of Art London called Gaspard Tiné-Berès created a collection of kitchen appliances made from recycles materials, including cork. In the collection were a coffee maker, toaster and a kettle which re-used components from previous items. Because of the changeable design of the appliances, pieces can be taken out and upgraded as needed, so that the product can last longer, which in-turn minimises waste.

Sawhney, R. (2012) Student Gaspard Tiné-Berès Makes Quirky Cork Appliances Out of Recycled Components. inhabit. Available at :  Accessed: 14 January 2018.

Introduction to Sustainability/TEDS TEN

For this unit I am going to explore each of TEDS TEN strategies to sustainability. I hope that this will inform my work and help me to develop more sustainable methods of working, from materials sourcing, to construction and dying methods and also the way in which my designs are displayed and exhibited. As I am textile design student, I have identified many issues with the fashion and textiles industries; including fast fashion, chemical dying and non-ethical production. I want to learn about these areas of textiles along with many others, in order to have a more informed view of the industry I want to enter into, and looking to the future, how it can be improved and changed to become a more sustainable, less harmful one.