On the 31st of May, 1st, and 2nd of June 2023, the 5th Product Lifetimes and the Environment (PLATE) conference took place at Aalto University, Espoo, Finland.
PLATE is an international, multidisciplinary conference that addresses product lifetimes in the context of sustainable development. The conference holds roots in the field of industrial product design but includes perspectives from fashion, with the representation from that area growing year-on-year. The entire conference places itself in the context of a circular economy agenda, focussing on the longevity approach but also including general strategy questions.
Laetitia Forst presented two papers from the HEREWEAR project titled “The BIO TEN Guidelines: Inspiring bio-based, local, durable and circular innovation in fashion textiles” and “Lifecycle Design: A method for supporting design-decision making with LCA knowledge in an interdisciplinary research project”.
The reaction from the audience to the HERWEAR papers was positive, with questions signalling an interest in learning more. The BIO TEN were received as a useful resource, and the premise of the Lifecycle Design paper, the difficulty of communicating between design and LCA was recognised by the audience.
In addition, some experimental practice work from the HEREWEAR project was shown in a temporary exhibition on the theme of Repair held in the design building’s main hall. Part of the work was produced as a collaborative piece exploring locality in print during the Heimtextil trade show in Frankurt. It was completed with further research testing the HEREWEAR lifecycle extension guidelines using the insights from the collaborative piece in a product-specific context.
An overarching question that emerged at several points in discussion and questions was the use of the word ‘upcycling’ against other terms like remanufacturing. Upcycling comes from fashion and resonates well with users to communicate the value of such practice. It is, however, seen as a broad and sometimes confusing word and more technical words can be used to support a more rigorous academic understanding.
The keynotes addressed both the general context of the conference with Professor Tim Cross’s opening on the history and evolution of themes within it, questioning its future path, and more technical questions such as product return challenges with the plenary by Tamar Makov.
Overall, the conference provided a perspective on the evolution of the discourse on product lifetimes, from design for longevity to the language, logistics, and assessments of repair and recycling. Drawing insights from across fields offers new angles to fashions circularity and sustainability challenges useful to HEREWEAR and the industry.
Contact Person & Email Address:
- Laetitia Forst (email)
- PLATE Conference Website (link)