The big idea: bringing making closer to use

My practice and research explores the individual and collective benefits of bringing making closer to use.

This page explains the three interrelated strands of my past and current activity which relate to this central theme. As we will see, I particularly focus on the sustainability principle of sufficiency: getting the same satisfaction of need from less resource use. I am also committed to diversity as a key characteristic of a resilient and meaningful fashion system. 

 

Experimental fashion enterprise

I describe Keep & Share as an experimental fashion enterprise: a real business, which exists as a means of exploring ideas in the real world, in order to demonstrate alternative possibilities and identify hidden issues and opportunities.

A focus on the principle of sufficiency led to longevity and versatility (keeping and sharing) becoming key elements of my design philosophy. I try to design my garments, and the entire experience of the label, to support long-term and flexible use, and see emotional connections as particularly important for longevity. 

I aim to cut out the usual hierarchies between designer, maker and wearer, and explore the characteristics of a fashion label which involves much more direct relationships.

These design strategies are discussed in detail in Keep & Share: the first ten years

 

Amateur making

My interest in amateur making grew out of my design philosophy for Keep & Share. I realised that people making their own clothes could create strong emotional connections, as well as a sense of well-being, and therefore contribute to sustainability.

However, the many conversations I have had with makers at workshops and participatory projects have shown that homemade items are not always treasured.

I aim to promote amateur making: encouraging others to take part, to contribute to the development of crafts, and to value both making skills and homemade items.

I try to do this by using my design skills to support other people's making, and by creating pieces and projects that challenge people's preconceptions. 

This topic inspired my PhD research. My work in this area is also discussed in Keep & Share: the first ten years

 

Culturally significant 'stuff'

I am currently working on a research project, Design Routes, which investigates the role of design in revitalising 'culturally significant' designs, products and practices - that is, those which are linked to particular places, employ traditional making processes or are embedded in local ways of life. 

I was particularly interested in this project because it presents an opportunity to contribute to diversity and sustainability by promoting locally distinctive material culture over mass-produced, homogenous goods.

We are aiming to support the development of this culturally significant 'stuff' by developing a framework of design strategies which can be employed in a wide range of contexts. 

You can follow our progress on the project through the Design Routes website.