Miriam Ribul, DeNAture research samples, 2014
Miriam Ribul is an Associate Lecturer at UAL and has been part of the team of researchers from UAL involved with the MISTRA Future Fashion project funded by the Swedish Government’s Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. Here she talks about the piece she is exhibiting in the TEXTILES TOOLBOX exhibition and how she juggles her time…
Tell us about the work you are including in Textile Toolbox: why did you chose this work and do you always collaborate with Hanna?
In January this year I lead a science-design research project in Sweden with funding from COST, the European Cooperation in Science and Technology, titled ‘Design Possibilities in Regenerated Cellulose Materials’. As a designer in residence at Chalmers University of Technology and SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden I had access to world-leading research in chemical recycling technologies for cellulose fibres. Dr Hanna de la Motte, a technical scientist and the project leader in project 5 in the MISTRA Future Fashion consortium titled ‘Reuse, Recycling and End of life issues’, hosted this project.
Hanna researches innovative methods for chemical recycling of materials including regenerated wood-based cellulose fibres. Through observation, interviews and lab tests I recognised the need for faster and more accurate identification of materials at the recycling stage and for the development of a system that embeds material information in the fibres without disrupting its properties. By applying design thinking in a technical laboratory environment I developed my project ‘DeNAture’ to aid cyclability of resources. The prototypes in the Textile Toolbox exhibition communicate the outcomes of the design residency.
Where do you mostly work/research, in your studio/at UAL or in the library (if a library, which is your favourite?)
The COST residency is an example for how, as a designer I work in different contexts: in this case the lab became my studio where I had access to materials and tools. The parallels of processes of a textiles designer and a technical scientist were significant. I discovered that the tools in a lab can be very advanced and specialist or improvised and DIY.
There is a similar approach to this in my design practice where I adopt tools from different disciplines depending on project. I have a studio space in East London as my home base for making and exploring materials. As Part Time Research Assistant and Associate Lecturer I am based at UAL, and being part of the team of the international MISTRA Future Fashion project I travel regularly to conferences, researchers meetings or workshops. I enjoy the library at CSM and Chelsea when I get the time to work there. This leads to a very varied range of workplaces.
What is it like to be part of TED and TFRC? How does it affect your work?
Being part of TED and TFRC I work with an inspiring cohort of researchers in a unique research environment that explores sustainability through different approaches. My practice is research-based and being embedded in the research culture at TED and TFRC since the start of the MISTRA Future Fashion project I am part of small to large research projects with varied deliverables and outcomes, as well as small to large industry engagements. This leads to exciting project outcomes that prove to have real impact. My work as part of the team as well as my individual practice is linked in my aim to develop sustainable systems that can be applied to different contexts.
How do you balance your work as Research Assistant and practitioner?
As a practitioner I explore the boundaries to which design can contribute and this approach feeds into my whole portfolio of work. I work as designer and researcher for independent projects or in consultancy engagements for a range of industry clients – my completed projects include concepts for future mobility and communication. I am also Associate Lecturer at UAL leading the ‘Sustainable Design’ unit at Chelsea to a cross-disciplinary student cohort from the courses Textiles Design, Interior and Spatial Design, and Graphic Design and Communication. In 201, I co-founded the design initiative Vectors and co-curated the exhibition ‘Design Beyond Making’ that launched at the Protein gallery. The initiative builds a platform to communicate new roles for designers beyond products.
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