Monday, 30 March 2009

Design Connexity

Design Connexity will be the eight International annual Conference of the European Academy of Design. The event will take place from Wed 1st April - 3rd at Greys School of Art and Design, Aberdeen.

The concept of "Connexity" was coined by Mulgan 1998 who defined it through the growing trend of globalisation which creates a growing connectedness of all of our actions through social, environmental and economic issues. 

The event will draw upon several themes:

Design Thinking
Design Interconnections, Intersections and Convergence
Design Empathy
Design Boundaries
Responsible Design
Anti Design

The above themes will be addressed through analysis of practice based research projects, a design exhibition and key note presentations from designer practitioners exploring these issues within their practice.

I will be attending and shall upload a report on the proceedings.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Plastic Fantastic Workshop

Pictures: American Supply plastics by Amélie Labarthe

What is plastic? Why plastic now? Plastic and architecture, do they get along that well? As many questions Aurélie Mossé and Mette Ramsgaard Thomsen from CITA will address next week during a one-week workshop at the Royal Academy of Fines Arts, School of Architecture, Copenhagen.

Aurélie will especially introduce students to the performing potential of contemporary plastics from upcycling materials to shape memory polymers.

As a starter on the topic, we do recommand to visit this amazing resource about plastics and architecture:

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Collaborative Upcycling - Repair Manifesto

Platform 21 are based in an old cathedral in Amsterdam, which they call their public design lab. They organise lectures, exhibitions and events to engage industry experts and the public to contribute through real time or digital environments. 

Their venture and platform allows people to collaborate to explore bold concepts, thinking and practice. One of their latest projects entitled "Repair Manifesto" encourages people to share creative concepts and methods to repair existing clothing/ products. This collaborative approach to upcycling encourages people to share ways to re-invent or re-use existing objects. 

Friday, 20 March 2009

Fashioning an Ethical Industry Conference Report

Last Wednesday I attended the Fashioning an Ethical Industry conference at The Rich Mix, London – a fitting venue being that it used to be an old garment factory.

The conference was opened by director Hannah Higginson, who advised that global sourcing was the theme of the day bringing together speakers from all areas of the supply chain.

The audience consisted of fashion, marketing and business students as well as industry experts and designers. You could feel the tension in the audience as these difficult issues were discussed and feel the genuine passion for fairer and more ethical approaches to be applied within the fashion industry.

The speakers talked about the difficulties surrounding production methods, working conditions and global sourcing. There was a representative from ASDA who talked about their plan to be the number one retailer for women’s fashion in the UK by producing quick affordable fashion in an ethical way.

A representative from People Tree talked about their grass roots approach to re-skill workers whom they refer to as artisans. They talked about their application of traditional handcraft and how it can take ten times longer to produce clothing but this is more sustainable as they eloquently referred to our hands being the oldest source of renewable energy.

One of the most inspiring talks of the day was by Dr Kate Fletcher, reader in sustainable fashion and textiles at London College of Fashion. She talked about systems thinking and the complexity of the fashion industry. Kate advised that we should not look for and can not find one complete solution but instead seek out ways to inspire and initiate lots of small changes, as this can collectively inspire big change.

The day closed with delegates being divided into three workshops focusing on design, marketing and business. In teams we were challenged to address an ethical fashion dilemma. I really enjoyed this part of they day as I got to meet new people who were passionate about fashion but committed to finding ethical ways to make, consumer or engage.

Overall this was a great day I left feeling really inspired, more educated about ethical sourcing and I even made some new friends. The day offered a holistic view of the sustainable issues challenging the fashion industry and I think it motivated delegates to find small ways to contribute towards making a difference.

Visit their website for further resources

DIY Fashion - Make Do and Mend Trend

Is the recession encouraging people to adopt DIY methods?

Reports by several retailers show that there has been a huge increase in sewing machine and haberdashery sales within the last twelve months. According to John Lewis ( march, 2009) sales of knitting and dressmaking equipment are powering ahead - knitting needles are up by 7 per cent and sewing machines by 34 per cent.

There is also a growing trend in dressmaking classes and knitting / sewing groups as people are opting to make their own rather than buying. Following the "make do and mend" ethos similar to that introduced during the war effort, people are becoming more creative and resourceful. I think this is an exciting time, as people are adopting traditional craft techniques that were so close to becoming lost due to the fast and disposable nature of high street fashion.

I have posted a short video by Etsy called "The Handmade's Tale" which shows how craft provides an alternative to mass production.

Craftivism - Who Stitched up Bansky?

I read an interesting piece in the London Metro this morning that I thought I would share...

"Who Stitched up Banksy?"
Through a movement called anti-craft or sometimes referred to as craftivism, people use hand craft methods to promote social and environmental issues. The Metro article showcased  a group who are re-producing a series of cross-stitch designs which replicate a series of Bansky works.

With the help of google, I have found several online groups who are using cross stitch as a new graffiti medium.
Radical Cross Stitch

The craftivism method has been explored through research by designer and PhD student, Otto von Busch.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Domestic Probe - Call for participants

The Home at the Digital Era

Aurélie, as a part of her PhD project in textile design, is looking for volunteers to take part into her Domestic Probe called Home at the Digital Era, a research investigating what the notion of home encompasses nowadays. The idea of this Domestic Probe is to engage with real people and real domestic spaces to understand how home looks like today and what the notion of domesticity means in a contemporary context, within real people’s life.

Goal : This project takes place within the frame of a PhD project in Tectonic Textiles, undertaken in CITA, Centre for IT & Architecture, Copenhagen and hopes to gather up-dated data about the perception of the contemporary home, susceptible to inspire design ideas for smart textiles.

Why I need you? Your active participation will encourage going beyond traditional clichés about the home as well as gathering authentic up-to-date data about contemporary domestic spaces.

What are you supposed to do? I would like to ask you to become a one-day special correspondent of the domestic, reporting about your own home. If you decide to join the research, you will be asked to respond to these two main tasks.

  • First of all, to take several pictures about your home. A disposable camera will be kindly provided if you don’t have access to a digital camera.
  • Answer quick questions about you and your home.

The datas collected (pictures and survey) have to be sent back along with the consent form, by the end of march, preferably by email, if not by post at the details mentioned below.

Profile Any volunteer from 18 years old is more than welcome to join the research. I am interested in the most diversified profiles, whether your home is a castle, a single room or a tent. The most important is your motivation.

So would you like to contribute to this research?

For full information, please find here:

  • The survey form with all the tasks required from you
  • The consent form, attesting your participation and understanding of the research process

If you feel ready, just go ahead and send the information back to Aurélie when done.

If you are still hesitating, feel free to ask Aurélie any question:

Aurélie Mossé, PhD student,Centre for IT & Architecture, School of Architecture, Philip de Langes allé 10, 1435 Copenhagen, Denmark

Tel +45 32 68 66 54

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Fashion Hactivism

I have been following the work of Otto von Busch, designer, theorist and atctivist. Hew has just completed his PhD entitled Fashion-able, Hactivism and Engaged Fashion Design at the University of Gothenburg.

Through >self_passage< he collaborated with other designers to challenge tradtional fashion design through a series of workshops to produce a series of open source toolkits of a "how to nature" - inspiring people to hack tradtional fashion methods.

His work is provactive and inspires people to actively engage in the fashion cycle to take ownership. By making things our own - we can create new ways to produce, consumer and adorn fashion. I find his work empowering and his approach challeneges us to re-evaluate fashion and find ways to relate to our clothing at a time when we are becoming disassoicated and things convey less value.

I love his newly coined terms of Craftivism (craft meets political activism), Shopdropping (the art of reverse shoplifting), or Swap-o-Rama-Rama workshops.

His thesis and toolkits are available to download via

Monday, 16 March 2009

Addressing the Interior

"To address the interior is to address the splitting of the wall."

Beatriz Colomina in Dwelling as a figure of thought, p81

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Echoes from Ecobuild 09

Echoes from Ecobuild, the London annual event for sustainability and innovation in design, construction and the build environment. Fair-trade based, the event gathers manufacturers and many other actors from the sustainable stage, from education to consultancy, mixing commercial stands with seminars on key topics such as Road to Zero Carbon, The Future of Urban Trees…

I have found very interesting to attend Ecobuild, not only because of its wide offer on what is commercially available sustainably speaking but especially because it is a broad and growing space if not in demand, at least in urgent need of designers. My point is not to praise the efficiency of a specific product, the qualities of such or such manufacturers, there is a plethora there. If you could regret the absence of more research-based exhibitors, what stroke me was the overwhelmed effect, the omnipresence of high-tech products, still lacking a sense of aesthetic, failing at engaging our emotions. The need for greater efficiency, more performant technologies makes no doubt in the quest for sustainability but is it the only stake? Why design & aesthetic should be absent of such a debate? Isn’t sustainability also about livability, -which means among many others, living in an environment that please our bodies and senses-?

Interestingly, one of the Arena debate was shyly touching such a topic. Germaine Greer, Professor Emeritus of English Literature and Comparative Studies at the University of Warwick, Bill Dunster, Architect & Principal of the ZEDfactory, David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation and Tony Juniper, Senior Associate, Cambridge University Program for Industry, UK Director, Friends of the Earth (2003-2008) were asked to debate about: Are Eco-Homes Ugly? Germaine Greer opened the debate with a provocative lampoon, in essence: “New Homes are universally ugly, and eco-houses are the most horrible of the lot! Not mincing her words, and sometimes omitting the complexity of designing green, her discourse had the merit to point out the role of design and designer in the apprehension of the Home, claiming that Eco-Homes are ugly because they copy real homes, […] because they are badly designed. Taking the example of photovoltaic technologies, she questioned why we should apply photovoltaic panels on the top of the roof as an incongruous decoration, they should be the roof, the whole house should be photovoltaic, indirectly tackling the necessity to develop an aesthetic from these new green technologies!
Bill Dunster emphasized that the presupposed ugliness of Eco-Homes had nothing to deal with their green face, but rather with the responsibility of the designer & the quality of the design itself, offering examples of successful eco-home design such as BedZed. He also pointed out that the issue is certainly more about converting current housing into eco-home rather than designing new eco-building, 80% of the UK housing park being constituted of old buildings. David Orr rather insisted on what a good, a beautiful design means, suggesting that the notion of livability is crucial in the apprehension of a place where we would like to stay.

So to speak, Ecobuild was a great experience to test the temperature of the Eco-Home market, comforting myself in the necessity to question how new technologies can enhance sustainability.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Radical Shopping

Radical Shopping is the final part to the culture, regulation and consumption series where Dr Jo Littler (author of Radical Consumption) will talk on practices of ethical consumption.

As ethical consumption, fair trade, consumer protests, rise of ethical brands, consumer activisim is becoming more familiar- it promotes consumer awareness. But how radical are these methods? Litler adopts a critical approach within the book to review case studies across many disciplines in order to understand the area's many contradictions, strengths and weaknesses.

Event: Radical Shopping
Date: 12 March, 17.00 - 18.30
Location: London College of Communication, T56, Elephant & Castle, London SE1 6SB
For more information or to RSVP please contact Steve Cross

Confidence in Knowledge - RSA Event

Don Tapscott, business strategist, consultant and co-author of Wikinomics will join Andrew Keen, writer, entrepreneur and author of The Cult of the Amateur: how the internet is killing our culture; Dan Hind, editorial director, The Bodley Head and author of The Threat to Reason: how the enlightenment was hijacked and how we can reclaim it; Professor Lord Eatwell, economist and President, Queens College, Cambridge.

They will explore different issues which question, to what extent has the global economic crisis triggered a crisis of confidence in our previously trusted repositories of knowledge? They will explore themes such as transparent cultures of collaboration (the wikinomics model), the democratisation of knowledge and the wisdom of crowds.

Tapscott and Williams bestselling book "Wikinomics" How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything was voted book of the year (2007) by the Economist and Financial Times. The book reviews how the internet connects people through global platfroms via blogs, wikis and chatrooms to encourage mass collboration.

The event is free and to book tickets visit the RSA website

SymposiumParametric Approaches III: Digital Crafting

An international symposium on the development of digital architecture for students and professionals. Organised by Centre for Information Technology and Architecture, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture.

Contemporary building practice is increasingly computer controlled allowing for a new production more efficient techniques but also of increasing complexity and variance. This symposium invites researchers and practitioners to discuss how computational systems in the design and manufacture of architecture introduce a new nearness to craft, material and making in architecture. The symposium asks: how can we use these technologies to develop a new adaptable architecture production, how do they affect the way we think about material specification and how do they challenge design?

CITA presents an afternoon of speakers from the fields of architecture, computation, engineering and craft discussing individual approaches to digital design, craft and material showcasing work-in-progress research studies and built projects.

Date: 13.03.2009

Royal Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture Auditorium 2Philip de Langes Allé 10 1435 Copenhagen K Denmark

The Centre for IT and Architecture (CITA) at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture exploring the emergent intersections between architecture and digital technologies. Identifying core research questions into how space and technology can be probed, CITA seeks to investigate how the current forming of a digital culture impacts on architectural thinking and practice. CITA examines how architecture is influenced by new digital design and production tools as well as the digital practices that are informing our societies culturally, socially and technologically. CITA is a cross disciplinary research environments consolidating new collaborations with partners from the fields of computer science, engineering, human computer interaction, robotics, artificial intelligence as well as the practice based fields of furniture design, fashion and textiles, industrial design, film, dance and interactive arts.

More Information can be obtained from CITA or directly here. Everybody is welcome

Thursday, 5 March 2009

The Story of Co-Design by thinkpublic

This short and sweet animation by thinkpublic explains the method of co-design beautifully. Thinkpublic are a service and communications design company who use co-design as a method to tackle social problems.

Textile, Ornament, Light & Interior Space Seminar

Design: Reiko Sudo. Entrance lobby. Photo by Tadashi Okouchi.

The background for this seminar is to present the current status of the post doc. research project: Adjusting Daylight and Solar Heating in Office Buil

dings - intiated in 2007 by Joy Boutrup and Vibeke Riisberg.

The aim of the seminar is to give a broader perspective on Textiles, Ornament, Light and Interior Space – embracing both academic and practice based ways of obtaining knowledge. To elucidate these topics, we have invited four speakers to share their insight with us.

As keynote speakers we are honoured to present Reiko Sudo, Textile Designer and Director of the Japanese company NUNO and Ellen Dissanayake, Affiliate Professor, School of Music University of Washington. Further more we have invited Mette Ramsgaard, Associate Professor, Ph.D - The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen and Delia Dumitrescu Ph.D student University of Borås, Sweden.

As paticipants we invite designers, architects, crafts people, academic researchers, teachers and students from design and architect schools, the textile industry and all others with an interest in the subject. The seminar will be in english.

Time and place

Monday 23rd of March, 10am - 4pm.
At the Grand Auditorium of KUC
Aagade 27
6000 Kolding - just opposite Kolding School of Design.

The seminar has been funded by the Danish Centre for Design Research, The Danish Ministry of Culture's Research Foundation and Kolding School of Design.

Source Kolding Design School