Do Better Things: Do Things Better

Dr Jen Ballie and Mark Shayler were invited by Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) and the Scottish Textile and Leather Association (STLA) to design an interactive session within an event titled ‘Do Better Things: Do Things Better’.

As designers and consumers alike, we can invest our energy, efforts and expertise into designing and doing good things. But will these actions have a true and meaningful impact within a world already proliferated with too much stuff? A recent BBC documentary titled ‘Hugh’s War on Waste’ highlighted that in the UK alone, we are disposing of seven tonnes of textile waste, every five minutes.

Within many design disciplines there has over the last few decades been a lot of discussion about dematerialised consumption patterns; about shifting the focus in design from material possessions to accessibility and services. But why are there so few examples of organised service systems within fashion or textiles?

Mark and Jen were challenged to deliver a hands-on, interactive workshop to re-imagine sustainability for textile and fashion businesses.

Mark Shayler from This is Ape drew upon his notable expertise of working with big brands to share insights into how we might go about doing more, with less, to develop sustainable brand stories. He talked about the value of truly believing in what you do and mindfully shaped the morning session to provoke new thinking.

During the afternoon, Jen expanded upon her PhD research to introduce service design as an approach for fashion and textiles. Within service design, touch points are used to craft a customer journey. The group explored what fashion and textile touch points could be and how they might be tailored to design alternative fashion experiences. The session concluded with everyone sharing a recipe card, a how-to guide for crafting a touch point, and these will be combined to curate the first chapter of an interactive toolkit.

As designers, every decision we make has a profound impact on people and the environment and we need to better understand how garments live their lives with people.


Keywords: sustainability, service design, business models, innovation toolkits, design strategy

Written for Textile Environment Design (TED) Blog by Dr Jen Ballie (November, 2015)

Service Design For Fashion: some thoughts

Sorry for the lack of blog posts - I am intensely focused on the final stages my PhD writing and refining the work developed. This process has been really valuable to enable me to deeply reflect and question what I have been trying to achieve and to determine what results have the most potential to be taken forward into a real world context. Alongside writing - I am developing some interactive fashion concepts which will be delivered through workshop sessions for the general public in the coming months.

When designing for participation its crucial to keep the end user / consumer / key stakeholder in mind - who are we designing for? Through the method of co-design I have used 'empathy' as a tool to capture stories from participants to build a narrative around their experience. Their design stories provide a real source of inspiration and also provide a sense of purpose for new design concepts to emerge. To expand upon workshops and co-design processes - the field of service design has so much to offer.

I was really inspired by the work of Lauren Currie's (Director of Snook) recent workshop with TED Textiles for their MISTRA Future Fashion Project.

Lauren's recent keynote : Craft the Secret Service challenges us to look beyond the work developed and identify how this work can be differentiated and offer additional touch points to enhance the consumer / end user experience. This requires deep consideration in a world where we already have too much mass produced stuff.

"When YOU as makers look in the mirror do you see someone that offers a service? A service that has been beautifully and brilliantly designed? A service that considers all the touchpoints? The experience of buying the output of your craft?

I don’t think many people in the craft industry do. We don’t usually think about craft as a service. I 100% believe there is a hidden service in every craft. I want us to think about how we can make that work – how we can identify that and bring it to the surface."  Lauren Currie (2011)

I think using empathy to capture insight from people has so much potential. And values also play a pivotal role  - what do you stand for and how it this represented through your work. What are the values of the people you are trying to service through your end product /service?

"People find meaning in experiences and things based on a wide variety of personal values." Chapman (2005)

The fashion experience is about aspiration - when shopping we buy to represent the person we want to project. Sometimes its purely functional - but aesthetics play a huge role in defining an image and overall look. Through the speed of fashion cycles / seasons it's easy to become lost and confused through information overload and I think well designed, curated services have the potential to offer new fashion experiences.

Within high end retail there is much more attention is dedicated to refining the experience and the consumer pays premium for this luxury. How can this area of consumer engagement be expanded upon. Does this have the potential to create more meaningful interactions with our clothing? To support sustainability a consumer's connection with their clothing is key. However, what happens when clothing no longer satisfies the consumer and loses the embedded value? Can new models be devised to support transformation / care & repair / or even exchange?

I recently visited the WAH nail bar in Topshop and think the social / experiential offer of this model is great. Its not only a nail bar - but a place to socialise with your friends, contribute to the menu, share your story on their website. They also host Zine nights in collaboration with the girls from the BLEACH bar to edit / collage images to produce mood boards for inspiration. Could a similar model be created for fashion creation in store and how would this be orchestrated?

It's an interesting space and requires deep consideration. I think there is a lot to be learned from Service Design tools / methods - thanks Lauren for sharing your work and thoughts!

TFRC: Perspectives on Future Sustainable Design

Last week Textile Futures Research Centre hosted an event titled 'Perspectives on Future Sustainable Design' at Central Saint Martins.

This event began with a keynote lecture from Dr Jonathan Chapman, followed by presentations from Carole Collet, Rebecca Earley and closed with a PhD finishers platform which I participated in alongside Kate Goldsworthy and Aurelie Mosse.

Dr Chapman's keynote was titled "Re-thinking Good Design in an Unsustainable Way" and started by highlighting why designers as beautifully positioned to champion sustainability. This keynote was packed with points which really made me stop and think

Good design is the ecology of doing and sustainability should be open for everyone to engage with. How can we make solutions accessible and encourage people to engage with them?

When exploring the broad terrain of sustainability confusion is good

"To be confused is to be combing things that were previously separate. To 'confuse' literally means, to 'pair together'; a melting pot of ideas, paradigms to world views." Hawkins (2011)

How can we be the change we want to see in the world and how does this all piece together? How can one individual connected to few inspire new action? Chapman went on to express that people are drawn to optimism and concrete solutions; they are not at all to pessimism, fuzziness and scare mongering.  Therefore solutions need to be pitched in an exciting, positive way to invite people to participate and become involved.

I loved the pace and tone of this lecture - it really made me reflect and think about my own work and I felt we were taken on a journey through some of the complexity surrounding sustainability. I've simplified some of the points which I related to but the full podcast will be available to download via TFRC soon.

This was followed by Becky Earley who introduced TED's TEN which is a toolbox for designers

1. Design to Minimise Waste

2. Design for Recycling / Upcycling

3. Design to Reduce Chemical Impacts

4. Design to Reduce Energy and Water Use

5. Design the Explores Clean / Better Technologies

6. Design that looks at Models from Nature & History

7. Design for Ethical Production

8. Design to Replace the Need to Consume

9. Design to Dematerialise and Develop Systems & Services

10. Design Activism

The TED team have curated the TEN into a collection of method cards which can be used to support interactive workshop sessions, seminars and consultancy packages with large fashion brands. This presentation illustrated each category with a collection of beautiful case studies to showcase how they can be adapted or built upon to inspire new working models for fashion & textile design.

This part of the seminar concluded with Carole Collet offering insight into the future of textiles. This future thinking approach took us on a journey of scientific wonder and combined beautiful images, prototypes to illustrations and possibilities which became very thought provoking. A connection to science and nature was made to identify sources of inspiration for designing textiles such a bio lace to explore new manufacturing processes which are engineered and constructed within a lab rather than an assembly line.

This was action packed and a huge thank you to the speakers and TFRC for putting this together. Some podcasts should be available for download shortly via TFRC connections and Shirahime have a fantastic write up.

I will complete another post on the PhD platform shortly.

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. 

DRESS UP/DOWNload @ Designers Block

Following on from some pilot sessions at the V&A Museum, I was invited to design and deliver some workshops at DESIGNERS BLOCK, during London Design Festival from the textile collective Puff and Flock. This afternoon session invited participants to create fashion illustrations using some templates and collage techniques. This way of working has been really fun and interactive and I am going to use the feedback collected to expand on the design tools and techniques. Therefore several workshop packages will be available soon enabling participants to co-create a print design for a dress.

In the meantime, there will be a big finale to the demo workshops and I will post more information soon. If you are interested in participating either online or coming along to future workshops - please get in touch.