The snowy mountains of Ajdovščina, Slovenia, greeted the Trash-2-Cash participants as they arrived for workshop 10 in early February.
As the project has progressed, so has our understanding of the ideal format for these project workshops. Now each participant has the opportunity to arrange focused ‘pre-meetings’ with one another before the main workshop begins, allowing people to discuss pressing issues face-to-face, which is so important for effective collaboration.
Each time we meet, the ‘Master cases’ have evolved with even more detail. When designers presented their concepts on Day 1 it was really exciting to see all of the different elements coming together: design ideas, material samples, prototypes, business models and life-cycle thinking. From what was an extremely murky beginning, now six concepts are emerging with ever-increasing clarity and tangibility.
At each workshop the multi-disciplinary expertise adds a new layer to the master cases and this time it was all about building the ‘story’ behind the concept through the eyes of a customer, to better understand appropriate business models and market potential. The final session of the day focussed on the project methodology, asking the question: ‘what do we need in order to work in this way?’. At this stage in the project people are starting to reflect and realise what was important in the project and what was missing, and some consensus around these insights will help us to build a model for Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI).
Tekstina hosted a wonderful evening for partners – one of the points highlighted in the previous session was that it’s so important to build social relationships as well as working ones, and seeing some of the local Slovenian culture helped understanding and cross-cultural relations enormously.
Day 2 involved a more in-depth exploration of the business and life-cycle aspects of the master cases. It’s really about the ‘nitty gritty’ now; how to fine-tune the concepts and what we need to do in the final few months of the project to maximize material innovation.
Then a fascinating tour of Tekstina’s textile production facilities, which gave insights not only into how the materials are produced but also the incredible knowledge and expertise of our hosts.
Finally, the ever important issues around how to use the knowledge we gain from the project after the funding ends. Projects like this are not only three years of research, they are stepping stones along the path to realizing new lower-impact clothes in shops and in peoples’ wardrobes, and new cars on the road. Most importantly it’s about real products made from innovative new materials that are part of an effective circular system, where ‘waste’ simply isn’t an issue because end-of-life products are valuable raw material for new production.