Silence Shirts presented at INTERSECTIONS 2017

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Trash-2-Cash’s Becky Earley (UAL) presented the Silence Shirts project - a collaborative research methodology experiment undertaken during T2C workshops - at the INTERSECTIONS 2017 conference exploring collaboration in textile design research.

 

The Silence Shirts project demonstrates how the activities of silent meditation and portraiture were employed as effective tools in the establishment and development of the relationships between the designers, scientists and industry participants collaborating on the T2C research project.

Silence Shirts aimed to navigate issues that can be barriers to effective collaboration, such as language, culture and competence, by establishing a shared ‘baseline experience’ as a foundation from which the collaborations could be fostered.

A conference paper - titled ‘A meditation on the faces of circular textile research’ - co-authored with Rosie Hornbuckle (UAL) presented three experiments conducted to provoke new insights into the roles, knowledge and expertise of the members of the group which resulted in the project’s first co-created garment, the Silence Shirt, featuring a print design by Professor Earley collaged from the portraits painted by members of the project team.

Organised by the Textile Design Research Group at Loughborough University and held at the University’s London campus on 13 September 2017, the one-day conference examined case studies that reveal unusual connections and cross- or interdisciplinary collaborations in research in the fields of textile and textile design. The conference was accompanied by an exhibition of the work that emerged through the collaborations, including the Silence Shirt.

The Silence Shirt was also featured in the 2017 Biennial of Design in Ljubljana - BIO25 - as part of the ninth edition of Shirtings, a socially responsive initiative that offers unique shirts by Slovenian and London-based designers as ‘social-objects’ to be the 'responsibility' of a user for 10 days before being passed on to the next participant.

 

Meet Cansu

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In the latest T2C podcast, Professor Becky Earley catches Cansu Musaoğlu, head of the dyeing department at Turkish textile producer and T2C partner Söktaş, just before she departs for her new position at a private university in Istanbul.

Recorded upon the conclusion of T2C Workshop 8 in Bilbao, Spain, Becky and Cansu discuss the drivers of sustainability for Söktaş, the importance of sustainability to their customers and how Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI) has given Söktaş’ R&D department a completely new perspective and approach.

Söktaş is a fully integrated producer of cotton and cotton-blended fabrics for shirts, jackets and trousers, supplying many of the world’s leading fashion labels. As T2C partner Söktaş are key in the supply of cotton to textile waste, research on recycling products, fabric production from recycled yarn, laboratory testing and the production of prototypes.

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!

 
 

Lost in the Wood(s) book launch and seminar event

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T2C partner and host of the next T2C workshop in Helsinki, Aalto Arts are celebrating the launch of a new biomaterial-focused publication Lost in the Wood(s), a new Biomateriality in Finland with a seminar event at Design Museum Helsinki next month. 

 

Taking place September 19th, the seminar agenda includes a series of talks by T2C partners, including: Presenting the Trash-2-Cash project by Emma Östmark, Director of Sustainable Textile Fibres at the RISE Research Institute of Sweden; Interdisciplinary collaboration for material innovation by Christian Tubito, Project Manager of Research & Innovation at Material Connexion Italy; Waste-free future of the fashion industry - the chemistry behind it by Michael Hummel, Staff Scientist at Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering; and The need of improvements in textile sorting of garments for textile-to-textile recycling by Helena Wedin, Researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.

The second part of the event presents the new Aalto ARTS Books publication Lost in the Wood(s), edited by Pirjo Kääriäinen and Liisa Tervinen. Through inspiring case studies (including the T2C project) and stories from researchers working intimately with biomaterials, the book explores how Finland’s natural resource – renewable biomaterials, such as cellulose – could replace oil-based resources and create new business and service models through design and collaboration.

The seminar and book launch coincide with the current Biomateriality Lab installation, part of Design Museum Helsinki's Enter and Encounter exhibition, exploring new, primarily wood-based, Finish biomaterials developed through multidisciplinary research projects at Aalto University. The exhibition is open until 22nd October 2017.

Buy the book from the Aalto Arts online shop.

Time: Tuesday 19th September, 15:00 - 18:00
Location: Design Museum Helsinki auditorium, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki, Finland
Organizers: Professor Kirsi Niinimäki, Team Leader of the Fashion/Textile FUTURES research group, Aalto University, and Pirjo Kääriäinen, Designer in Residence at the Fashion/Textile FUTURES research group, Aalto University

 

Upcycling fast fashion...

 
 

...To Reduce Waste & Pollution

T2C partners Aalto Chem presented their research earlier this month at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). You can see the full press conference with Simone Haslinger and Dr Michael Hummel on YouTube, or read on for the ACS account of the event. 

 

SAN FRANCISCO, April 2, 2017 — Pollution created by making and dyeing clothes has pitted the fashion industry and environmentalists against each other. Now, the advent of “fast fashion” — trendy clothing affordable enough to be disposable — has strained that relationship even more. But what if we could recycle clothes like we recycle paper, or even upcycle them? Scientists report today new progress toward that goal.

The team will present the work at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 14,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“People don’t want to spend much money on textiles anymore, but poor-quality garments don’t last,” Simone Haslinger explains. “A small amount might be recycled as cleaning rags, but the rest ends up in landfills, where it degrades and releases carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. Also, there isn’t much arable land anymore for cotton fields, as we also have to produce food for a growing population.”

All these reasons amount to a big incentive to recycle clothing, and some efforts are already underway, such as take-back programs. But even industry representatives admit in news reports that only a small percentage gets recycled. Other initiatives shred used clothing and incorporate the fibers into carpets or other products. But Haslinger, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University in Finland, notes that this approach isn’t ideal since the carpets will ultimately end up in landfills, too.

A better strategy, says Herbert Sixta, Ph.D., who heads the biorefineries research group at Aalto University, is to upcycle worn-out garments: “We want to not only recycle garments, but we want to really produce the best possible textiles, so that recycled fibers are even better than native fibers.” But achieving this goal isn’t simple. Cotton and other fibers are often blended with polyester in fabrics such as “cotton-polyester blends,” which complicates processing.

Previous research showed that many ionic liquids can dissolve cellulose. But the resulting material couldn’t then be re-used to make new fibers. Then about five years ago, Sixta’s team found an ionic liquid — 1,5-diazabicyclo[4.3.0]non-5-ene acetate — that could dissolve cellulose from wood pulp, producing a material that could be spun into fibers. Later testing showed that these fibers are stronger than commercially available viscose and feel similar to lyocell. Lyocell is also known by the brand name Tencel, which is a fiber favored by eco-conscious designers because it’s made of wood pulp.

Building on this process, the researchers wanted to see if they could apply the same ionic liquid to cotton-polyester blends. In this case, the different properties of polyester and cellulose worked in their favor, Haslinger says. They were able to dissolve the cotton into a cellulose solution without affecting the polyester.

“I could filter the polyester out after the cotton had dissolved,” Haslinger says. “Then it was possible without any more processing steps to spin fibers out of the cellulose solution, which could then be used to make clothes.”

To move their method closer to commercialization, Sixta’s team is testing whether the recovered polyester can also be spun back into usable fibers. In addition, the researchers are working to scale up the whole process and are investigating how to reuse dyes from discarded clothing.

But, Sixta notes, after a certain point, commercializing the process doesn’t just require chemical know-how. “We can handle the science, but we might not know what dye was used, for example, because it’s not labeled,” he says. “You can’t just feed all the material into the same process. Industry and policymakers have to work on the logistics. With all the rubbish piling up, it is in everyone’s best interest to find a solution.”

The researchers received funding support from the European Union’s Trash-2-Cash project and the Finnish government.

This press release was originally published by the American Chemical Society. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

 

Chemically recycled garment prototype

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Presented in Stockholm, 3-4 April 2017

Last year a team from Finland (including T2C partners Aalto University and VTT, alongside University of Helsinki) won the Global Change Award (GCA), an annual innovation challenge organised by the H&M foundation*.

 

Their entry was to ‘Make waste cotton new’ using Ioncell-F technology. Since last year’s award, Aalto University has been prototyping various knit structures using Ioncell-F yarns, and at this year’s awards Pirjo Kääriäinen from Aalto’s GCA winning team and Essi Karell from T2C have exhibited a garment prototype to demonstrate how far they’ve come in 12 months.

The prototype is a translucent ivory coloured top with delicate frilled detailing. The fabric resembles linen, with the softness of cotton. The top is constructed with a combination of hand and machine stitching.

Essi Karell, Doctoral Student from T2C partner Aalto says “Although the samples of chemically recycled materials we are currently knitting and testing are small, they provide strong evidence of what is possible, and will hopefully inspire designers to adopt circular practices resulting in a real change in the fashion industry.”

The prototype was also shown in the H&M Change Makers Lab at Fotografiska, Stockholm. This event brought together around 250 change makers (including partners, innovators, governments, investors, trade unions, NGO's, other brands) to:

  • explore how to accelerate the shift from linear to circular
  • understand the potential of new technologies and transparency
  • emphasise the power of human rights and social impact

and, most importantly, to collaborate and challenge the existing practices together.

*More about H&M Global Change Award and the winners here. A €1 million grant is shared by five winners that show potential to shape the fashion industry and to help protect the planet. This year the grant was divided according to the public's votes at Stockholm City Hall, 4 April 2017.

 

Meet Gustav

 
 

In the latest T2C podcast, researcher Gustav Sandin explains how the Lifecycle Assessment tool can be used to determine the impact of everyday products like jeans or hospital gowns, services like clothing libraries, or processes like the washing of clothes.

It’s about understanding the entire context of the product or service, not just the materials they’re made from. Gustav’s work identifies where the hot spots are, and how these might be managed out to make a real and measurable difference.

Gustav (from RISE - Research Institutes of Sweden) describes how modelling garment lifecycles is a kind of environmental mythbusting, and how passionate he personally feels about achieving a significant reduction in environmental impact through the research projects he is involved in.

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!

 

Dynamic Duos

 
 

Exploring Design-Science Material Innovation Partnerships.

 

Materials research has developed rapidly in recent years, in both the scientific field and through design exploration. Design-science collaborations are emerging which create new directions and conversations in materials development. Outlooks and mindsets are changing through these collaborations to challenge traditional approaches and established disciplinary boundaries. 

The aim of this one-day seminar was to explore new ways of thinking by inviting existing design and science collaborators to present their work together, from their own unique perspectives. 

Dynamic Duos was curated within the context of the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project which aims to apply a ‘design-driven’ approach to the development of new, regenerated textile fibres. 

Framing the event – current work at TED 

The day started with an introduction from Professor Rebecca Earley and Dr Kate Goldsworthy from the Textile Environment Design (TED) research group based at Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) who hosted the event in London. Becky presented a showcase of past and present projects where UAL design researchers from the Textiles Futures Research Centre (TFRC) and at the London College of Fashion have worked with scientists, including the work of Suzanne Lee, Carole Collet and Helen Storey.

Current TED projects such as Trash-2-Cash and Mistra Future Fashion II continue this research direction by bringing together large multi-disciplinary teams to try to tackle the complex problems of materials cirularlity and sustainability. This has allowed TED to build a team of Post-doctoral Researchers – Dr Dawn Ellams and Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, and PhD students who are working in this field. Kate explained, the team’s experiences have resulted in some interesting insights about how designers and scientists can work together, such as ‘bringing our studio with us’, revealing hidden (technical) knowledge through visualisation, ‘bypassing the system’, using co-design workshops, and tacit materials knowledge or ‘design hunches’. 

A curiosity about commonalities and differences in the various approaches taken in these projects and partnerships was the driving force behind this event. A fantastic line-up of design and science ‘duos’ were asked to reflect on the following questions in their talks: 

  • How did the collaboration start? 
  • What were the main challenges? 
  • What helped you to communicate and share knowledge? 
  • What was ‘success’ for each of you? 

As well as some fantastic speakers it was great to have both scientists and designers in the audience, from both academia and industry, representing other EU projects such as Light Touch Matters and ECAP, and UK organisations such as WRAP and the AHRC – a truly informed audience. 

The day was organised so that the dynamic duo presentations in the morning generated the content for further round table discussions in the afternoon. 

Marjaana Tanttu and Dr Michael Hummel from Aalto University in Helsinki kicked off with a brilliant anecdote about ‘Dog Brushes’. In order to bridge the gap between fibre production and textile prototype they had to solve some very practical problems in an immediate way – separating the fibres using dog brushes and cutting staple fibres using paper scissors. This highlighted a problem that was shared in the room, that often lab-scale equipment is insufficient to produce prototype-ready materials for designers to use in their work. The need to work closely together and share spaces was also a key element in enabling a common language to be developed, and the use of summer schools to create an interdisciplinary ‘playground’ was a theme which resonated in subsequent talks. 

Prof Kay Politowicz (UAL) and Dr Hjalmar Granberg’s (RISE) talk began with how they started to work together, as an off-shoot of the Mistra Future Fashion project; they didn’t need to deliver something they simply recognised the mutual desire to make: you make something; I make something, let’s make something together. This highlights a theme that we have been exploring in Trash-2-Cash, that successful collaboration is as much about people getting on with one another, being inspired by each other - ‘clicking’ – as it is to do with systems, tools & methods. Hjalmar drew attention to the ‘demonstrator’ sample as a way of allowing others to see what is possible, while Kay reiterated a point made earlier about how research is intrinsically linked to teaching. Both researchers found that the complimentary skills and knowledge – described as ‘breadth and depth’ (referencing Tim Browns ‘T’ model), as well as identifying a shared problem, provided the basis for working together. 

Miriam Ribul (UAL) and Dr Hanna de la Motte’s (RISE) work was presented partially via Skype (a modern enabler of collaboration) and introduced Miriam’s past work for Mistra (where the collaboration was born) and her current Doctoral research. Miriam worked with Hanna as a ‘designer in residence’ which involved intense two week periods in the science lab. Miriam’s approach was playful and experimental: “she created so much cool stuff” Hanna explained; the serendipitous nature of design exploration within such a short space of time compared with the longer process of systematic scientific enquiry was a theme which was echoed by others throughout the day. The hardest thing was working out what they could do together, what was possible, how to start… while Miriam noted that one of the nicest things was being able to get a scientific explanation for what she had made the materials do through her experimentations. 

Dr Dawn Ellams (UAL) and Prof Robert Christie (Heriot-Watt University) explained how the challenging landscape of research assessment in the UK was part of the driving force behind creating ‘impact’ through research collaborations with designers. Top-down drivers were also identified later in the day as an opportunity for this type of research, as funders too increasingly understand the value of multidisciplinary research. Bob explained that one of the surprising things about Dawn was how she turned scientific concepts into inspiration for her work, while Dawn noted that she had to communicate her approach to the scientists in a way which gained their trust, learning about a specific part of the process whilst maintaining her unique standpoint as a designer, so as not to become a ‘bad scientist’. Bob repeatedly saw that through uninhibited exploration, his design students were able to make discoveries that scientific enquiry would be unlikely to predict: “I learnt not to discourage them”. 

Dr Adam Walker & Nick Ryan (Worn Again)represented an interesting contrast to the academic focus of the first four duos. Working in industry, the pair explained that while the first major challenge had been understanding one another (both explained that they had invested time to better understand the other’s language and discipline), the continuing problem has been communicating the value of a scientific principal to commercial stakeholders. Nick explained that a simple diagram had been the key to potential funders understanding why their technology would make money in a competitive environment, while Adam explained that the real advantage of working in this context was that the market was already established – market-pull is far more effective than technology-push. 

Dr Kate Goldsworthy hosted the panel discussion in the afternoon, drawing out some of the key questions from the morning’s talks. Some of the highlights were the ability of designers to ‘ask the right questions’, to challenge the scientists, and the need to work together in close proximity – do we need new spaces for design-science work? Creating an atmosphere for the freedom to explore, and reach serendipitous outcomes which may be more ‘innovative’ than conventional enquiry, how can we do this more in design and science? What can be achieved in science within one month and what can be achieved in design are very different, what can we expect from each discipline given the different timeframes? Investing in the other discipline while maintaining your own disciplinary identity also a featured in the discussion. 

Four key questions drawn from the days’ talks were: 

  1. What new (old) methods are useful?
  2. What are the opportunities? 
  3. How do we creatively communicate?
  4. What new spaces could we share? 

This is part of TED’s ongoing research into multi- and inter- disciplinary tools and methods in both the Trash-2-Cash and Mistra Future Fashion II projects. 

Watch this space for more events, discussions and research from us in this emerging area. 

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle 
Post-doctoral Researcher, Trash-2-Cash
Textiles Environment Design (TED) research group, UAL

 

Meet Michael

 
 

Cellulose Spaghetti is the latest Trash-2-Cash podcast, and the first to feature one of our science partners.

Dr Michael Hummel is part of the Aalto Chem team working on chemically dissolving waste to produce new, high quality textile fibres. The Ioncell-F process they’ve developed won last year’s Global Change Award, and Michael explains more about the process, and potential impact in the podcast.

In Michael’s words

Ioncell-F is a new method to create so-called ‘man-made cellulosic fibres’. These are meant to replace, or be an alternative to, cotton. There have been a few fibres on the market – most prominently Tencel and Viscose – but the problem with Viscose is that it’s connected to a lot of toxic chemicals, so the process is anything but green. The fibres are good (in the end), but the way to get to these fibres is not really in line with 21st century sustainability thinking.

So there’s a need for new processes. The Tencel process is one of them, but it is limited…the process that we have come up with is more versatile, and that is reflected in the trash that we can transform into high quality fibres.

The feedstock that we’re using to produce these fibres is cellulose…and it doesn’t really matter where it comes from – whether old cotton textiles, fresh wood pulp, or used cardboard boxes. As soon as we can isolate the cellulose, we can convert it.

(But what actually is cellulose?)

Cellulose is a polymer. Most people connect that term to synthetic polymers (or oil based products), but cellulose is a natural polymer - the most abundant natural polymer on earth in fact. In every biomass you’ll find cellulose – from a little in algae, to 90% or more in cotton.

It’s an amazing resource that hasn’t been valorized yet.

- - - - - - - 

Michael goes on to talk about how you spin a solution into a fibre (a hint is in the title of the podcast), how colours and dyes affect the recycling process and he tells us what an ionic liquid is. Michael also explains how collaborating with designers has helped to move what might have been a small lab based project onto the global stage, with the chance to make a real impact on the lifecycle of all textiles.

This is an insightful podcast that highlights why we need science, design and industry to come together to help solve real and urgent problems.

Listen to Michael’s story on either Soundcloud or iTunes…and don’t forget to subscribe for more.  

 

Meet Matilda

 
 

In our latest podcast, Prof Becky Earley catches up with Matilda Laitila - an R&D Project Manager at cool Finnish Children’s brand Reima.

For more than 70 years Reima has been supplying cosy clothing encouraging people to play outdoors, no matter the weather.

Through projects like Trash-2-Cash Reima intends to continue being the world’s leading expert in outdoor clothing for children. It’s also important for T2C to have industry partners who are at the ‘coal face’ of performance wear, to make sure fibres we develop in the project will be commercially viable in that sector.  

Founded in 1944, there was a shortage of raw materials, so the first Reima products (women’s work wear) were manufactured out of old army snowsuits. As performance is such an important part of outdoor fashion design, there’s always been a focus on material breakthroughs at Reima – Enstex material was introduced, then followed by Reimatec. Matilda’s job is to study new materials that will help them meet their goals of a waterproof, abrasion resistant and comfortable garment.

Reima also has pretty inspiring pillars of responsibility around sustainability, covering material and product development, the supply chain, and future recycling systems.

Matilda talks about all of this in the latest Trash-2-Cash podcast, available on iTunes and Soundcloud now. 

 

Trash-2-Cash research @ Circular Transitions

 
 

This autumn (23 – 24 November) marks the introduction of the international conference, focusing on textile design and the circular economy.

 

The conference coincides with the 6th T2C workshop and provides a unique opportunity for the first findings to be presented to a design audience. 

The contribution from Trash-2-Cash researchers demonstrates the diverse range of topics being investigated around the idea of ‘developing circular materials’.

Exhibits

#112
Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL; Helena Wedin, SP; Lucija Kobal, Tekstina; Martin Krečič, Tekstina; Pailak Mzikian, SOEX; Vittoria Troppenz, SOEX; Micol Costi, Material ConneXion
A sample box containing 112 textile samples (90 material types - 76 blends and 14 pure fibres) collected from 1 tonne of textile waste will be presented alongside key results from work package 4 of Trash-2-Cash. The exhibit shows the unique challenge of textile waste for textile recycler SOEX and also the great opportunity for regenerating cellulosic fibres from mixed cotton waste.  

Silent Shirt
Prof Rebecca Earley & Trash-2-Cash partners
Practising collaboration through making, Trash-2-Cash partners will be invited to co-create an upcycled shirt during workshop 6 which will then be exhibited within the Circular Transitions exhibition.

Papers

What Else do we know? Exploring the application of design knowledge and skills for the circular economy beyond materials selection and design for production
Dr Rosie Hornbuckle (University of the Arts, London)

Can Design-Driven Material Innovation also drive circularity?
Marjaana Tanttu, Dr Cindy Kohtala & Prof. Kirsi Niinimäki(Aalto Arts)      

Colours in Circular Economy
Dr Elina Ilén, Prof Herbert Sixta, Dr Michael Hummel, Prof. Kirsi Niinimäki (Aalto Arts & Aalto Chem)

Whole Circles: design research leadership for the circular economy
Prof Rebecca Earley (University of the Arts London)

 

Sticky and Stranded in Copenhagen

 
 

Reporting from Workshop 05:

 

Copenhagen was strangely sultry for mid-September. Each morning as we walked/metro-ed/uber-ed our way to Copenhagen Business School the sun was warmly uplifting. But later it became uncomfortably sticky until the cool evenings swept in - this unseasonal weather pattern set the tone for our latest meeting... 

We all arrived with broad smiles and genuine embraces - the result of a year’s familiarity with each other. Although we anticipated there'd be difficult questions to answer over the two-day workshop, the atmosphere was warm and optimistic (something Skype calls rarely achieve).

In the morning there were planned talks and activities, and a sharing of knowledge about T2C materials on a tour of R&D islands. In the heat of the afternoon, we started to explore our design islands.

Navigating from materials R&D to new design concepts was tricky at first, it took a while for people to adjust to the unfamiliarity of design applications – and the journey could have been smoother.

At the end of Day 1 it wasn’t clear if we had achieved everything we had intended; had the two areas of materials knowledge from science and design cross-pollinated or simply passed each other by? And some difficult questions about project direction remained unresolved.

By contrast Day 2 was a dramatic voyage. We raised project direction issues in open and frank discussions, and there was uncomfortable uncertainty as partners discussed their contribution to solving the problems. Through some brilliant tools and mediation from our lead facilitator from Material ConneXion and the generous collaboration of all of the partners, indecision turned into commitments, and discomfort to excited optimism. 

As we fed back the previous day’s Design and R&D Island work to the whole group, we saw the project pulling together in a synchronicity that hadn’t existed before. The project materials lined up with the manufacturing capabilities and we could all see the kinds of products they could become.

The joy after a truly intense two days was palpable: “This was the best workshop yet”. Even if at times it felt like we might at any moment become unstuck, the hard work of communication and collaboration definitely paid off.

My big takeaway from Copenhagen: “we need uncomfortable moments to progress” 

And the result? By workshop 06 in London we will have our first design concepts and our first Trash-2-Cash material samples. 

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL

 

Meet Tina

 
 

In our new podcast, Tina Mueller of Copenhagen Business School explains why the Intention-Behaviour gap is important in understanding consumer perceptions of recycled goods.

To learn more about social marketing and sustainability research from the customer's perspective, go to iTunes or Soundcloud to listen. Don't forget to subscribe so you receive all new episodes automatically! 

 

Discovering new Islands in Copenhagen

 
 

Preparations For Workshop 05

 

Each Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project workshop brings new challenges for the methodology team. Planning the activities that will inform the design-science interactions is, in itself, an experiment in collaborative design process. We start by sharing ideas around key objectives for the workshop, identify challenges to address, and decide which methods or tools would be most appropriate to use... 

Sometimes this means devising experimental workshop sessions, other times all that is needed is a conventional PowerPoint presentation or an open discussion. And then occasionally – to our great relief – a situation arises where we can repeat activities that we know have worked in previous T2C workshops (WS).

WS05 in Copenhagen is based on one of these ‘tried and tested’ activities. Julie Hornix from design agency VanBerlo, recalled a session that Material Connexion had prepared for WS01 in Stockholm, back in September 2015 (timely that it's exactly one year later). In its first appearance the session was described as a marketplace with scientists each having a ‘stall’ to share the different fibre technologies they would develop in the project. Our methodology team recalled that it was a particularly effective and engaging way to share knowledge, introducing designers to the materials they would be helping to develop, using samples, videos and diagrams instead of scientific datasheets or dense papers.

Right now, we are at a Milestone in the project where Fibre Prototype 1 has been produced and so, once again our materials scientists have significant new knowledge to share with all of the partners. Differently, this time, designers also have work to present: new design briefs and Concept Areas have been developed from all of our scenario work, and in Copenhagen our design and manufacturing partners will be choosing which Concept Areas they want to work on in more depth.

This time instead of a marketplace we have decided that Islands are an appropriate place for interdisciplinary discovery: groups will visit each island in turn to unearth the newly formed gems of scientific endeavor and design ideas.

On our Science Islands visitors will be able to see the first scientific results demonstrated through fibre samples with the best scientists in their field on hand to answer probing questions.

On our Design Islands visitors will discover material and product samples showing cutting edge design in three different types of application. Leading textile and industrial designers will provoke, translate and ideate to develop Concept Areas through discussion. They will be on hand to respond to questions from the scientists and manufacturers about how these design visions align with technical material challenges.

WS05 promises to be an exciting moment for all of the T2C partners: the methodology team get to use a repeatable workshop design; the scientists get to present their first results and glimpse the types of products their fibres could become; manufacturers can start to realise the types of textile structures and finishes that they will be able to test; designers will finally get something tangible and meaningful to work with: real materials and actual product concepts. 

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL

 

Meet Julie

 
 

During the Milan workshop, Professor Becky Earley (UAL) sat down with Julie Hornix (VanBerlo) to talk social design, megatrends, and summer reading recommendations.

Julie has written the post below to accompany the podcast: 

Over the past couple of months Ivo, Marjorie and I have had the pleasure of taking part in the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project representing the Dutch design agency VanBerlo.

VanBerlo is passionate about helping our planet.
We're also passionate about design and technological opportunities. So for us, this partnership was a match made in heaven. Here’s a short round up of our role and goals for T2C.

Dream Green!
At VanBerlo, we crave new approaches to the re-use of materials and waste reduction. To dream is to think big, and by thinking big you can come up with countless ideas to help the environment through design. We love to bridge the ideas with the visual, enabling us to go that one step further. 

Joining the T2C project, VanBerlo’s goal is to help recycle textile from a design-driven perspective. Alongside the other T2C partners, we aim to increase the value of the end product (instead of traditional downcycling) - to upcycle and contribute to the grave to cradle initiative - no matter which industry is involved. 

Not only do we bring global trend research to the table, but we also explore ideas in novel ways that help to produce surprising insights. 
As our Senior Designer Ivo Lamers explains,“We believe that design thinking will help bridge the gap between science, technology and practice. This approach helps to boost the entire T2C project! At VanBerlo we often use metaphors to get discussions started, intensified, structured or sometimes even ended. Using the superhero metaphor during the Helsinki workshop initiated a huge team spark and helped to create common understanding and a common language between the partners about scenarios.”

We make sure that our ideas aren’t just cool; but that they also answer business challenges and user needs. At the end of the day success for us is that the results should be accessible and globally relevant, rather than just being created for a niche market. 

Julie Hornix, Design Researcher, Van Berlo

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!

VanBerlo
Change Ahead book
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close book
This American Life podcast
99% invisible podcast

 

We're podcasting!

 
 

Here at Trash-2-Cash, we love podcasts. We like funny ones, serious ones, and inspiring ones.

 

We like hearing people talk about their passions, and the opportunity to delve deeper than a blog post allows. So, we decided to start podcasting too...

At first our podcast series will explore the people, methods and tools involved in the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project setting up the 'big picture' of our world. And once we hit the outcomes phase of the project we'll host in-depth discussions about the impact these will have on the world. 

We hope you'll subscribe on iTunes or Soundcloud to bring our stories with you on the bus, to the gym, or in your car. We'd love to have you join us for the T2C journey!

 

Materials! at WS04 Material ConneXion Italia

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We’ve come back from WS04 in Milan with an overwhelming feeling that this can work...

 

This is a significant moment for Trash-2-Cash for a number of reasons: we’re almost one year in, we’ve just completed our first official sharing of written knowledge between disciplines (through 4 internal reports), Cycle A: Design has ended and Cycle B: Application has begun, but most importantly we’re really starting to understand one another and our different contributions to the project.

Not everything ‘worked’ at this workshop. The methodology team has achieved a lot but we are still learning, the ‘design-driven’ approach is very new to all of us. It’s trial and error; we use our experience and knowledge to plan appropriately, make on-the-spot changes, and introduce experimental tools as well as tried and tested ones.

So, as a testament to what we’ve achieved and how a project like this can work (with so many partners, with different backgrounds, languages, disciplines and cultures), we’re going to share some of the ‘tops’ (the best bits) reported by partners in Milan…

  1. We loved using the materials samples to understand where we’re heading
    The venue for this workshop – Material Connexion Milano HQ – really allowed us to touch, to feel and discuss material properties. One partner remarked that the location had provided an amazing ‘ambience’ for the workshop (and we could even work outside in the sunshine!)
     
  2. We now understand the project ‘State of the Art’
    This has been difficult to achieve in the first year as results were still emerging and partners were still getting to grips with how their work aligned with everyone else’s. It was the right time to dedicate some significant attention to Work Package presentations.
     
  3. We can understand more about our business by hearing what challenges lie ahead for the material through the whole supply chain
    An incredible benefit of this project are the huge range of companies representing most of the material lifecycle and the great level of expertise that can be shared at each workshop – everyone is learning, even the most experienced people.
     
  4. The different ways that the methodology team creates opportunities for cross-disciplinary discussions is fantastic
    Each activity is carefully designed to enable particular discussions and analysis to take place. We reflect on the strengths and weaknesses and adapt our approach accordingly.
     
  5. Learning about the fibre production process
    Fibre science and material production is really starting to make sense to designers which in turn opens up doors to creativity and will be an invaluable resource later in the project.
     
  6. We are now starting to focus, connecting the dots and the details are emerging – “the project starts now!” 
    After much hard work at the ‘fuzzy end’ of the process, partners are starting to see some clarity in what we want to achieve and how we are going to achieve it.
     
  7. Cherries! In the true sharing spirit of the project, our Slovenian partner brought a gift of cherries.

We also had tips (things to improve) which clustered around the need for the science partners to share specific results in smaller groups and in person, not only on Skype… something we will think seriously about in our preparations for WS05 in Copenhagen.    

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL          

 
 

T2C weather report from Milan

 
 

Preparations for Workshop 04 in MilanWorkshop 04 (WS04) is almost upon us and Milan in May promises to be everything that Helsinki in March (WS03) was not: warm with a strong technical front moving in from the east...

 

In Helsinki we were treated to a plethora of design approaches to collaboratively add colour and context to our visions for the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) fibres. We also saw, bubbling up on the horizon, a desire for the science and technology results and challenges to be more openly discussed, shared and addressed. WS04 will therefore allow the technical partners the time and space necessary to get into the nitty gritty of issues like garment sourcing, fibre elongation and pretreatments… and for the designers this will be an opportunity to find out how ‘garment sourcing, fibre elongation and pretreatments’ actually affect the senso-aesthetic and performance potentials of the new T2C fibres.

I shudder at the thought of describing Design as the ‘weakening front’ in this weather analogy but a partial withdrawal is a necessary part of a balanced system, allowing the atmosphere to evolve before pushing back to challenge the technical direction. In this way the role of Design in Milan will be to support the technical exchange and, perhaps for the first time, scientific and technological challenges can benefit from designerly approaches to problem solving. The methodology team have designed activities to enable communication within disciplinary groups as well as between partners. We will take workshop tools to help facilitate discussion, interpret ideas between disciplines, and identify the opportunities in seemingly impossible challenges.

WS04 is also a milestone in the T2C project as we bring together official internal insight reports (‘deliverables’ in EU speak) from four different disciplinary areas: marketing; science & technology; design and materials. This ‘coming together’ of the different areas of project knowledge in a documentary form marks an important stage in the collaboration, taking it out of the messy brainstorm discursion of the workshop into something more considered and tangible. Together these reports will help each person sitting in their own (disciplinary and geographical) climate to build a more complete picture of the kinds of fibres we plan to develop. Not all of it will make sense to everyone. And that’s the other agenda for WS04; to make it make sense, to elucidate the picture that has begun to be pieced together individually and make it vivid in collaboration; a forecast map taking into account all of the different perspectives.

When we return on May 27th, back in our own offices, studios and labs, we will all have a clearer picture of the design and technical ‘outlook’ for T2C fibres, and be able to begin work on developing new prototypes in earnest.

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL

 

A day in the life of the Trash-2-Cash suitcase

 
 

Reflections on Work Shop 03, Helsinki

 

Most suitcases are destined for a life of seclusion, at the back of wardrobes, on luggage stands in hotel rooms, in the bellies of buses and planes… the conveyer in baggage reclaim must be liberating by comparison.  

But not our suitcase; he has a very special vocation...

Last Wednesday he set out with an important cargo, a suite of T2C things carefully curated to build our sense of community, bring us closer together through our common behaviours, understandings and appreciations, and support us as we continue to create a common language, communicating both with each other and our wider audiences. 

Collectively I guess you would call these things ‘design tools’.

These were not the only ‘tools’ making a journey to Helsinki that day.  In a brilliantly orchestrated schedule we were treated to 15 tools and methods from six partners, all with a specific purpose in helping us to revise future scenarios for T2C fibres and give direction to the fibre development.  Some were established methods and some experimental but many were unfamiliar to the majority and all were new for materials R&D.  Many of these tools were brought by design partners, but there were also some prepared by scientists.

The effect was manifold, enabling social cohesion within the group, confidence building, co-learning, aiding communication and trust, furthering individual and collective understanding of the project and tasks, presenting and co-creating knowledge for specific project outcomes. 

Moreover, we were able to locate our regenerated fibres within the future worlds they might inhabit, connect our materials development to real and emerging issues and begin to share our hopes for how our fibres could positively influencepeoplerather than just replacing ‘bad’ materials with better ones.  From all of these different angles we viewed the potential for our work.  Our discussions progressed collectively (and not without debate) and by the end of day 2 we were able to come to more of a consensus on the direction for fibre development than we could have imagined or hoped for three months ago.

There was a great deal of positive feedback on this process from all participants, but there was also a desire (among designers and scientists) to discuss in more detail the very real technical challenges, and to have the opportunity to share early results.  Design is after all sabotaging a very familiar – and in many ways successful – materials R&D process which has a much clearer route from action to results.  We are all learning.

The spirit with which the T2C materials researchers have embraced these new methods has been inspiring and as we near the end of the messy ideation phase of the project the technical partners can perhaps look forward to more familiar processes in the near future.  Will this mean that the role of our designers will change within the workshop setting?  How will design methods and tools enhance or disrupt this most logical and linear of processes?    

And what of the Trash-2-Cash case?  He is back at UAL awaiting WS04; but in April he is off to Barcelona to be part of an industry innovation event. In May he will be restocked with useful tools and resources and accompany us to Milan… where else but in Material ConneXion Italia HQ. 

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL

 

Defining fibre concepts in Helsinki

 
 

Preparations For Workshop 03 (WS03) In Helsinki

 

Workshop planning is an adaptive learning process, both in the period between workshops where the methodology team can apply lessons learnt from the previous workshop, and within the workshop itself; the design must be flexible and able to respond to the situation as it unfolds...

The previous workshop in Prato, Florence (WS02, Nov 2015) launched several key work packages, so the intervening three months have been an intense period of research activity across the design, science, manufacturing and marketing disciplines. Partners have been working hard both independently and in smaller groups to discuss specific tasks.

All of that work will come together in Helsinki with key presentations and interactive knowledge sharing from design, science and marketing partners. This injection of new knowledge will help the consortium in their next important task of defining ‘primary scenarios’ for the new cellulose and polyester fibres, new fibre concepts, from which the design team can create design briefs and the materials scientists can focus their fibre research.

The methodology team comprising Material ConneXion, University of the Arts London (UAL), Aalto Arts and SP, have been working hard on the plans for this workshop to ensure that all of the knowledge presented can feed into the definition of fibre scenarios, and that all partners’ perspectives are well represented throughout the workshop…and of course it must be an engaging and inspirational experience where partners can strengthen their connections within the collaboration and share ideas. In short these workshops are crucial for the success of the collaboration.

The methodological approach is to design workshop tools (for example in Helsinki a communal sample case and workshop pack will be introduced with the beginnings of a project glossary) and tailored activities (such as a postcard Q&A, and a materials science tabletop session in this instance) and then observe and analyse the effectiveness and success of those interventions.

What is becoming really interesting, is how each partner is bringing new methods and approaches to presenting and creating new knowledge, from which others are also able to learn. The methodology team’s role then becomes that of a conductor, creating the framework within which each brilliant solo performance can contribute to the ensemble; the meta-project.

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL