What kind of designer do I want to be?

23Dec09

As I’ve never been a designer before I thought it valid to ask the question ‘what kind of designer do I want to be?’.   Do I want to be Orla Kiely’s main competitor churning out my trademark patterns on everything from handbags to wallpaper from Tokyo to New York?  Do I want to create handmade textiles produced in limited editions, upcycling fabrics, using ethically sourced fabrics? Or is there a way of combining the two?  


As somebody entering the world of textile design and production in 2009 it’s impossible to ignore the ethical and environmental impact of the textile industry.  [NB: These issues will be expanded in a seperate post.] But also to consider the materialistic society that we inhabit, where the ‘new’ and the need for change is an addiction. Judith Williamson describes retail therapy in ‘Consuming Passions; the Dynamics of Popular Culture’:

 ‘the need for change, the sense that there must be something else, something different from the way things are, becomes the need for a new purchase, a new hairstyle, a new coat of paint. Consuming products does give a thrill, a sense of both belonging and being different‘  

In terms of interior furnishings we update our homes more regularly than previous generations.  My parents generation bought furniture for life and invested in heirlooms that could be passed to future generations.  But now we re-furnish according to changing fashions and also because it’s possible to do it cheaply.  

Some of the key questions I wish to explore are:

How can designers make a difference?

How can consumers make a difference?

What ecologically sound choices are available in fabrics?

How can we slow textile production down?

I hope to gain insight to these issues and start to find solutions to these questions by joining the current debates around sustainability in textile design,  by talking to other textile designers with similar concerns.


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