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

 

Polyester Please

Image credit: Pleats Please, Issey Miyake

Image credit: Pleats Please, Issey Miyake

 
 

Super-luxurious, forever recyclable, durable and robust. Think we're talking about Polyester? Yes, we are...

 

T2C partners are meeting in Stockholm this week to dive deeper into the potential of polyester, one of the fibres we're recycling in the Trash-2-Cash project.

Technology and design have brought us a long way from the double-knit leisure suit of the 60s and 70s, and even savvy textile fans can be surprised to find polyester hiding in a super-luxe fabric these days. Nike, G-Star, Patagonia and Adidas have used recycled polyester in sports and outdoor wear, and Issey Miyake's Pleats Please range (100% polyester) would arguably not have been possible using any other fibre. 

Some estimates put polyester as the most widely used fibre in the world right now, reflecting its low cost and versatility. But it still has an image problem.

Most of the time polyester is used (hidden) in a blend, giving strength, durability and shape retention to natural fibres. But in T2C we're more interested in polyester as a monomaterial - not a blend - because we're thinking in a circle.

Blended fabrics are incompatible with recycling techniques and we want our super-luxurious, durable and robust fabric to be forever recyclable. We're imagining a cool jacket, perfect jeans and incredibly touchable upholstery in our T2C super-fibre, and investigating what properties the fibre needs for each. 

We'll look more at polyester in future blog posts, and we want to know what you think too. Tweet us @eutrash2cash to let us know what you'd put at the top of your polyester super-fibre wishlist! 

 

MEET MARJAANA

 
 

Over the next few months we’ll introduce you to some of the people and organisations in the T2C consortium. Today we have a blog post from Marjaana Tanttu, a PhD student at Aalto University in Finland...

 

Marjaana writes:

I’m a doctoral student at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki. I started my doctoral studies in Fall 2015, with the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project, specifically focusing on the collaborative process between designers, material scientists and other professionals in the field of material development.

During my bachelor and master studies at Aalto I was involved in several multidisciplinary projects around materials, like the CHEMARTS summer school and Design Driven World of Cellulose. They got me interested in the collaboration side of design; working with people from diverse backgrounds was fascinating and inspiring, but at times also challenging because many of us were entering a new field and doing things for the first time.

Designers are accustomed to using a range of tools and methods to include user insights while developing new products and services. But weaving design insights into the development of new materials is a novel approach, so there are very few guidelines or previous examples to help people commencing this type of collaboration. This challenge motivated me to continue my studies to a doctoral level.

T2C is a very rich case for observing different aspects of collaboration, because it’s diverse in so many ways. It combines different nationalities, professional backgrounds, application areas and organisation types. I’m also very pleased that T2C emphasises sustainability, which I personally feel should be at the core of creating all materials and products for the future.

 

Innovation of Meaning

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Just before the Christmas break Aalto Arts hosted a workshop with the renowned Design Innovation Professor at Politecnico di Milano, Roberto Verganti.  The workshop looked at how ‘innovation of meaning’ is used by designers to create products that people really want, such as the Nintendo Wii or the iPhone, bringing huge commercial success...

 

This subject area is particularly relevant to the T2C project as Design-Driven Materials Innovation (DDMI) is at the heart of the research methodology. Design academics from Aalto and UAL as well as materials scientists from VTT attended this workshop with the aim of feeding the ongoing discussion of how design and science can come together in the development of new materials. 

A key message from the two-day event was that the real value designers can bring to the process of innovation is their ability to ‘understand what can be meaningful to people’; designers can change the meanings of products in line with how peoples’ lives and experiences are changing.  The role of new technology in this process is to enable a ‘radical innovation of meaning’; designers must know about technological capabilities in order to apply the new meanings in innovative products.  A big question from the event of particular importance to DDMI and T2C was: which comes first, the meaning or the technology? 

 

Preparing for Workshop 2

 
 

Emma Östmark, Christian Turbito and Becky Earley have been working hard behind the scenes over the last month, preparing for workshop two (WS2) of the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project.

 

The two-day workshop will be held at the prestigious Prato Textile Museum in Italy on 24 and 25 November, hosted by Enrico Cozzoni from Grado Zero. At the event we’re aiming to introduce design thinking techniques to inform and influence the science and technology work that follows...

Overall the T2C project aims to develop new high quality fibres with added value functionalised properties. At this workshop we’ll use design thinking to identify the characteristics we want in the new T2C fibres, considering consumer perceptions and limits of the fibres - and the design/manufacturing team will get a better understanding of how it’s possible for the characterisation of the fibres to change so they can work towards specific applications and scenarios during future sessions.

Material ConneXion (MCI) will be facilitating the workshop and bringing along material samples (including textiles based on polyester and cellulosic fibres – prototype 0) to spark brainstorming. UAL and Aalto Arts are supporting the design, facilitation and idea generation, and will be documenting and communicating the process and outcomes from the workshop.

Copenhagen Business School (CBS) will give market insights for our three fields of application [textiles for garment, tech-textiles for garments, composites] and they’ll present useful ‘determinants’ for recycled products, focusing on mapping and analysing perceptions of value, needs of the end user and market trends for eco-products in general and eco-textiles more specifically. CBS will also receive feedback from all partners to help shape the form of qualitative analysis involved in the project. The conclusion of this will be summarised in a draft report [M9 - February 2016] and in a final version [M11 - April 2016] shortly thereafter.

VTT, SP, AaltoChem and SweRea IF willexplain from their perspective where it’s possible in the tech-process to impose ‘changes’ and what the implications are for the final fibres. They’ll also give technical feedback to the primary reasoning of the designers and manufacturers.Van Berlo, Grado Zero Espaces, Reima, Tekstina and Maier and their designers will provide ideas and stimuli during the creative and discussion activities.

Two groups have been created for the workshop – one focusing on recycled polyester fibres and the other on cellulosics – allowing several sessions to operate in parallel. There will be an on-site materials library, derived from homework set for all participants. The selected material can be deemed ‘interesting’ in any way – perhaps it has added value finishing, great touch or hand feeling, superior technical aspects or interesting performance (for example). During the workshop the material researchers will offerperspectives about where we can intervene to enable change in our fibres, and our material library will act as a great reference point for these discussions.

During the process of designing the workshop several opportunities came up. The idea of an ‘Ideas Space’ where things can be logged and saved for future workshops was raised; and also the need to understand how ‘sustainability’ questions can be more directly addressed in all of the workshops. Our recent work has also brought up some interesting questions about how we represent the T2C process – both technically and conceptually – and whether co-developing images and symbols could useful for this. They will hopefully help explain clearly all of the ideas arising out of what is undoubtedly a very complex subject!

 

Kick-off meeting in Stockholm

 
 

There are 18 partners involved in the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project, so it’s important we gather periodically for workshops to take advantage of the vast knowledge of the group. 

 

SP in Stockholm hosted the very first workshop on 22 and 23 September, where we talked about all of our different roles and the importance of a coherent approach for the next three and a half years of T2C...

The consortium includes raw material suppliers, material developers, designers and manufacturers who are all very keen to explore the innovation process through a design driven approach.

Despite being separated by country borders, belonging to different sectors and having different skillsets what we all have in common is our enthusiasm to share knowledge.

At the meeting designers explained to chemists the business logic of designing for sustainability, and chemists explained to designers the intricacies of the regeneration process for fibres. We asked, how can our skills come together to produce something truly innovative?

But there were also challenges raised in the workshop...

For example, designers usually need (or want) to feel the materials they’re designing with. But what happens when the material doesn’t exist yet, or it’s only being produced in small quantities in a laboratory? Can fabric characteristics be effectively summarised and communicated to a designer via a spreadsheet?

That’s just one of the challenges that we’re looking forward to exploring within the T2C project.