The Makers Guild: Making Textiles @the V&A

Last Friday I was invited along to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London by the Makers' Guild to share my PhD research. The Makers' Guild is a membership organisation founded by Rachel Coldicutt and Fiddian Warman to support and promote makers from all backgrounds from coders to crafters. This session was titled 'Making Textiles' and kicked off with Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino and Alexandra Jarup introducing Curious Scarves. This project was designed in collaboration between both girls who are from different design domains - Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino is an interaction designer and entrepreneur who co-founded Tinker and within the last 12 months has established Design Swarm.Alexandra Jarup is a knitwear designer based in London who has worked on commissions for NME and North Circular.

Curious Scarves was initiated by Alexandea Deschamps-Sonsion after a period of being single - she explored the concept of designing a scarf which could signal your relationship status to others. After mocking up some digital prototypes she used social media to recruit a textile designer with the skills and expertise to support production. After some textile sampling and prototypes the finished product began to emerge. This is available to order online via their website and can also be downloaded to DIY.

I'm in love with interaction design and find it super exciting when it collides with textiles. Both speakers presented their background to illustrate how their skill sets combined throughout the design process. I found this inspiring in itself - for example to bring an idea to life you need to go out and have conversations both real time and online. I thought it was great they found each other via twitter and have established a great working relationship within this project.

I presented an updated version of Co-Everything and connected my research of co-design to my own practice. I have been in full writing up mode as my research is close to completion - therefore this was a great opportunity to present my work to capture some feedback. I am currently reflecting upon my co-design projects to deliver a series of interactive fashion packages that will enable fashion consumers to participate within the design process.

There is a huge shift moving beyond direct consumption towards more experiential fashion services and I am really interested as to how this could offer a new opportunity space for fashion and textile designers. After my presentation we discussed how new business models might emerge and if the role of the professional designer begins to change to that of facilitator / and design becomes more democratised - what's the added value and how can we generated an income beyond designing stuff and evolving new services?

The session closed with Textile Futures MA graduate Elena Corchero  founder/ director of Lost Values (2008 - present). This company combines craft and new technology to inspire future design concepts which are fun and playful with consideration to environmental issues. Elena's main source of inspiration is near forgotten things - from traditions, cultures, materials and skills.

She brought along some work to showcase and invited the audience to take a photograph of her reflective knitwear. The results lit up similar to her product images above - I loved the interactive element of her presentation. It really engaged everyone and was a fun way to demonstrate the concepts.

A huge thank you to the Makers Guild for inviting me along! I really enjoyed meeting the other speakers and it attracted a lovely mixed crowd. I will definitely be following this community and attending future events. The next lined up is:

2 March: The Economic and Social Value of Making: What is the impact of maker culture on the wider economy? A discussion between policy and funding experts.

Visit their website for future updated and booking can be confirmed via the V&A website.