UK Designer Reimagines Textile Waste In New Collaboration. The collaboration has resulted in a collection of fringes and tassels suitable for soft furnishingsEVAN JAMES DESIGN
Titled ‘Retained Tactically’, the collaboration has resulted in a collection of tassels and fringing handmade entirely from industrial waste materials. These interior accessories contain FSC birch plywood off-cuts from the studio of Evan James Design, waste silks and other textiles from UK mills and leather scraps from a shoe manufacturer.
Rowbotham, a 2019 graduate of the BA Textile Design Course at London’s Central Saint Martins, caught the eye of Skinner with her ‘Waste Not, Want Not’ collection which showcased at the ‘Designing in Turbulent Times’ exhibition held at CSM’s Lethaby Gallery. Rowbotham’s work has a distinct aesthetic utilising the waste silk she salvages from textile mills across the country.
Evan James Design has become known for its modular surface solutions which were a result of Skinners’ graduation from the Chelsea College of Art and Design in 2008. Consistently challenging her own production methods, Skinner creates bespoke woven panels using FSC Birch Plywood which act as screens, wall panels and decorative surfaces within a variety of environments.
This cross-collaboration between industries is an example of how sectors can work together to have a wider impact rather than just their direct circles of influence. In an industry where the reduction of waste is critical, with a 2017 report by Ecochic stating that in Europe alone 9.4billion tonnes of textile waste are sent to landfill or incinerated each year, initiatives like this can only provide hope as to what can be achieved. “As an independent practitioner, I find we have a wealth of specialist knowledge which sometimes we’re a little too preciously competitive over.” Skinner states as she discusses the benefits she has found from collaborations, “Yet, when engaged in a mutually beneficial partnership across industries, this knowledge evolves threefold and takes an unexpected path, maintaining a relevancy and presence you may not have achieved otherwise.”
The ‘Retained Tactically’ collection is hoping to provide conscious solutions for interior designers and decorators with the fringes and tassels suited for use on upholstery, lamp shades and other soft furnishings. Featuring at this years Surface Design Live at the Business Design Centre in London from 11-13th February, both designers will also be present to discuss ideas around closed-loop production and the future opportunities it holds.
Collaboration is key when striving for change in existing industries and this partnership not only impacts the textiles sector but also dives into the fashion, interior and design worlds provoking other designers to take note and think outside the box. With an added sense of urgency upon the building of a circular economy, I urge all designers to question their material source. Can raw materials be replaced for a by-product of an existing industry? Can a collaboration across sectors bring a diverse appeal to your brand? With both these questions posing many logistical challenges, it is time to address the production behind everything you create. While quality and desirability must remain at the forefront, this subliminal mindset of conscious creation must underpin every design decision we make.
Not the only creative minds seeking to disrupt this industry, other projects are making huge progress to seek further change. The Textile Review is an online platform offering fabrics salvaged from exhibitions and installations for hire or purchase. Founder Katie Briggs witnessed the extent of fabric waste first-hand from trade shows and other events and is seeking to close the loop on such occasions. Design brands such as One Nine Eight Five and House of Quinn also use reclaimed fibres and fabrics within their creations proving that a design-led aesthetic can be created with a dedicated and conscious approach.
Moving forward further into 2020, cross-collaborations must be seen as an opportunity for change. This is just one example outlined and many designers are keen to explore such avenues. Working together and breaking down barriers between sectors and industries can help encourage the transparency we need to curb business as usual. We must strive to ensure our economy can still succeed, but with the positive impact on the planet and its inhabitants as the number one concern.