Week -9 – Sustainability


The idea of being ‘sustainable’ comes from the industrial revolution and the need to create products faster, cheaper and bigger in scale, which in turn impacts the environment, energy, power, workers and waste. What is unsustainable within design? Dying, is a major factor in the pollution of water, manufacturing causes many ethical issues in terms of cheap labour and the exploitation of workers, these are just a few of the examples of unsustainability within design.

In the design industry, the most damaging part of the design/product life cycle is the consumer use section, with clothing items being washed and re-washed over a long period of time, this is what effects the environment the most. How can this be changed? Is the solution to create short term clothing items with a short term life span, or will this affect the ‘end of life’ section of the product life cycle with a rise in throw away items? Each section of the design life cycle has elements that can be changed in order to make them more sustainable.

The idea of upcycling and recycling textiles is what intrigues me the most, it re-evaluates the idea that manufacturing could be reduced if we re-invented or manipulated already existing products. Artists such as Karen Jessen and Tara booth Mooney adopt this approach.  The idea of designing for empathy involves changing a piece of clothing for someone who already has a significant emotional attachment to that item, for example; modernising a wedding dress that has been passed down as a keepsake, or transforming a dress into a bag to make it more tangible or long-lasting.


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