This September 2023, HEREWEAR partner Laetitia Forst (UAL) attended the Textile Intersection conference at Loughborough University in London. The event explores and celebrates the nature of collaborations in textile design research, which aligns well with the HEREWEAR goals and provided valuable insights for the project. It contributes to the debate on the crucial role of design practice and prototyping to enable a shift to a more sustainable textiles industry.

The conference was structured under six themes: Textiles and Architecture, Textiles and Sports, Biotextiles and Sustainable Textiles, Interactive and Performative Textiles, Advanced Textiles Materials and Processes, Critical Textiles. In each theme, key questions on the nature and enablers of innovation surfaced. The question of sustainability permeated all the papers, either through the form of optimization solutions or as a reframing of the purpose of textile design.

Particularly relevant to HEREWEAR was the track on Biotextiles. This included a biomimicry approach to reducing waste in form-weaving, the use of seaweed as a material, and experiments with bacteria to dye or scent textiles. Similar challenges to those encountered in HEREWEAR were brought forward, such as the technical elements of zero-waste design, the challenges of variable properties in bio-based materials, and the aesthetic limitations of novel finishing processes.

In the critical textiles track, a paper by Angela Kilford, Sonya Withers, Tanya Ruka, and Faith Kane presented meaningful insights on the methods and processes of working as caretakers of the land in ‘benefit chains’ rather than value chains. This takes on deep collaboration can inspire HEREWEAR stakeholder engagement approaches and other collaborative projects. A paper on repair by Donna Maione also chimes with the HEREWEAR approach, with a close connection to the BIO TEN strategies and the role of user-led repair in circularity.

The conference was flanked by an exhibition of works showing textile innovation through collaboration. This was a great opportunity to see some of the experiments presented in papers in the flesh with developments in natural and bacterial dyes, as well as new biomaterials taking centre stage.

The textiles intersection brings together a fantastic network of innovators and researchers from across the fields of science, engineering, architecture, and textile design to discuss the relationships between design and innovation.

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