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Miriam Ribul tells us more about the TEXTILES TOOLBOX exhibition

Miriam Ribul_DeNAture research samples_2014

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.

Related links and further reading:

Jordi Ruiz Cirera: Freelancer Award

Jordi Ruiz Cirera

  1. Since winning The Freelancer Award last year, are you working on any new projects?

Since I won the Award last year I’ve been focusing on a long-term documentary about the agribusiness realities in the Southern Cone. I’m now on my second visit to Paraguay, and in the near future I’d like to expand it with visits to Brazil and Argentina.

Alongside this I’m very happy to say I’ve just published my first book, “Los Menonos” with independent house Editions du LIC, focusing on the work I did about the Mennonite communities in Bolivia a couple of years ago.

  1. What inspired you to do documentary based photography?

What inspired me were the pictures of the great classic reportage photographers such as Koudelka or David Alan Harvey. I always felt it would be great to be able to travel to all those places and photograph them and be paid for that. So that idea got in my head and I felt documentary photography could merge very well my social motivations with my desire to travel. Then as usual reality is quite different from the initial idea, but I still get to travel quite a lot and I’m happy I can focus on the stories I feel more attracted to.

  1. What is your starting point for each themed documentary?

Well for me it’s not easy to find a new story to focus on, it has to attract me in order to devote 100% to it, it has to be interesting enough and attractive for a broad audience. Often I tend to focus on areas I already know or have been to, so that I get a first-hand impression about them there after I may look for stories there. Alternatively if I feel attracted by a certain topic I may research about it and look for a story wherever it may be. I’d like to work around the idea of globalization and how it affects everyday lives of small communities.

  1. What are your top three tips for self-promotion as a freelancer?

The first and most important is to do good work that speaks for itself. Then surround yourself with talented and motivated people as their advice and experience will be of great help. Ultimately use social networks wisely and existing online blogs or posts to promote your work.

  1. With your success in winning the Freelance Award, what would you advise aspiring entrants in the future?

Well I guess the only way to win the Freelancer Award is to be a working freelancer, do good work that stands out and then work on getting it out. It’s difficult but sometimes you just have to trust your own work and be open to what may come after it.


Visit Jordi’s website 


Natalie Grogan: College Award (LCF)

Natalie Grogan

  1. What are you currently working on since winning the LCF Award last year?

Since last year I have continued work on Style Scape extensively, designing and event networking to meet developers for short and long-term work. In April I pitched to a panel of judges and managed to secure the full £5,000 SEED business funding to develop the facilities on Style Scape and to promote it towards the beginning of 2015.

I then graduated from the MA Fashion Media Production course at LCF in July, and started my current job as a Graphic Designer at Phantom Studios at the beginning of August.

Sometimes it’s difficult juggling a full-time job at Phantom as well as a part-time job at Style Scape, but I love seeing Style Scape go from strength to strength and watching the user-ship grow in places all over the world. Recently we’ve just surpassed 1,000 Style Scape submissions, so we’re going to celebrate with some new website developments!

2. How did the award and prizes benefit your enterprise/project?

When I won the LCF award last year, I was awarded £300 prize money and a place at the Start-up Weekend Fashion & Tech London – powered by Google for entrepreneurs.

The prize money was put straight towards the legals for Style Scape such as the website Terms and Conditions and the privacy policy.

The Start-up weekend at the Google Campus last December on “Silicon Roundabout” was incredibly insightful. I spent two and a half days at the Google Start-up campus brainstorming, designing and developing a fashion app with a team of very talented young entrepreneurs and developers that had bought a ticket for their place there. I still keep in contact with some of the people I met there, who have said they’d love to help me with Style Scape. It gave me a greater understanding of how to pitch and sell yourself (and your product) to a room full of investors and business professionals. I’m almost positive that this helped me win my funding money at my pitch to the SEED funding panel.

3. What were your main aims when creating your enterprise/project?

I wanted to encourage sartorial discovery. The content needed to be authentic, insightful, multi-cultural and non-biased. I identified a gap in the market for a global fashion website that showed real fashion. There are in-numerable fashion blogs where the posts are sponsored by clothing brands – we need a space where real personal style can be seen! After all, the city streets are the real runways.

4. What would you advise to students and graduates entering the Creative Enterprise Awards in the future?

Enter, enter, enter! My website wasn’t even live when I applied for the Creative Enterprise Awards. In fact, it went live the week after I had won! The judges look for solid business ideas, not necessarily polished products ready for the market. The awards ceremony was great fun, and offered me lots of networking opportunities with like-minded people along with some website promotion!

5.What are your future plans for your business/project?

To take over the world! I aim for Style Scape to become the online fashion destination to go to, to discover street style from around the world. I have been approached by Born, a curated crowd-funding website to showcase Style Scape, so keep a look out for the project pitch online in due course.

I want to increase the number of users tenfold by the Summer of 2015. When Style Scape ‘2.0′ has gone into development I will be in talks with fashion bloggers to promote the website on their blogs. I have already been in talks with a world-renowned Parisian fashionista to showcase Style Scape on her blog. After this initial promotion I aim to advertise Style Scape at London Fashion Weeks next year.

NoeMie – Dash Magazine: International Award

NoeMie  Schwaller

1. How have awards such as the Creative Enterprise helped to boost the publicity of Dash magazine?

Both the Creative Enterprise and the Deutsche Bank award have been beneficial for my business, it has given it credibility, a buzz and a little help on the financial side too. Publicity was mostly within London and the UK which was fantastic as it’s our target market. I’m honored to have won the awards, it proves that I’m on the right path with DASH Magazine and puts a smile on my face.

2. What was the main thought process when Dash Magazine was created?

Illustration and fashion have always been my biggest passions. Combining the two after my MA in Fashion Journalism came naturally to me, and with it I found and filled a gap in the market. During the extensive market research phase which included online surveys, interviews, SWOT analysis and other means of research, I realized there was a gap in the market and I got great feedback. There are hardly any other fashion magazines with such an extensive use of illustration. I found an investor which showed me that there are other people who believe in DASH. The DASH team is small but award-winning they are highly skilled, motivated and passionate.

3. What were the successes and challenges of setting up an international business?

DASH provides a highly stimulating visual experience, filling a gap and demand in the market for illustrated fashion content. Winning the Best Media Award 2011 in the Deutsche Bank Award, the Creative Enterprises 2012 award and the Creative Enterprise Award in international Business 2013 has been a great success. Since its launch in February 2012, DASH has built up a database consisting of over 7,000 contacts as well as great distribution channels and a social media following of 40,000.

It is challenging in these economically hard times, the big advertising companies and brands have become more careful and advertise much less than five years ago. Advertising dropped rapidly and drastically as it’s is difficult to get companies to trust your product. But as Terry Jones, Founder of i-D Magazine told DASH: “If you can do it in this economically hard time, you’ll be just fine afterwards.”

4. What does the future hold for Dash Magazine?

I’m planning to invest more in selling point promotions to target specific markets such as Brazil and China – as we just did in and around London for the winter issue. We will start thinking about the summer issue’s topic after fashion week’s craziness – I just got back from Poland Fashion Week. We continue sharing the love.

5. What is your top tip to fashion students and new graduates who want to build a business from scratch?

Get your business plan done, work hard, don’t give up and if possible don’t work alone.

Emma Denby : College Award (CCW)

Emma Denby

  1. What are you currently working on since winning the CCW Award last year?

In the year since winning the CCW Award, I’ve had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects. I spent my summer working on the feature film ‘Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass’ in the sculpture department which was so great! I worked in the art department and I worked on music videos for Sam Smith, Robbie Williams, One Direction, Ella Eyre (where a room span 360 degrees). I’ve made some props/sets for various theatre productions in the UK and USA, some Magnum ice cream models for window displays all over the world and a sculpture that went over to Iceland for a TV show for Sky amongst other things. I’m currently freelancing at a prop makers, working on various different projects and have a few exciting things in the pipeline.

2. How did the award and prizes benefit your enterprise project?
I bought lots of nice new tools with my prize money which have already proven to be beneficial in my workshop jobs and on shoots. It was great to be able to buy lots of tools all in one go rather than wondering which to buy and when etc.

3. What were your main aims when creating your project?
I wanted the freedom and flexibility of being self-employed which I love. I can’t imagine working at the same place all the time; I need change which is scary but exciting.
I wanted job satisfaction as much as possible – to enjoy and get excited by each job I get and not to get sick or bored of work. You spend so much time working that you have to enjoy it, as soon as I don’t, I change direction to work on projects that are exciting as often as possible (film sets, rotating rooms, explosions etc.). I keep challenging myself and expanding my skillset. Another aim is to have job variety – I am interested in working in areas that don’t necessarily all come under one job role so I created my own job.

4. What would you advise to students and graduates entering the Creative Enterprise Awards in the future?
Do the things that scare you the most as they often turn out to be the most rewarding. When paid work goes quiet, do your personal work. Set yourself seemingly ridiculous goals then go for them and don’t give in.

5. What are your future plans for your business/project?
To keep doing the work I’m doing. To make more time for personal work so that this can become another strand of my freelance work and to keep doing music videos alongside my workshop jobs. I’ve been fascinated with them all my life so I always need to have these and lastly to keep learning new skills.

Victoria Galtry: College Award (LCC)

Victoria Galtrey

  What are you currently working on since winning the LCC Award last year?

I have just started print runs with a Stoke based pottery and have ordered my first round of dinner plates. It is very exciting as this will allow me to move into higher volumes and supply retailers more easily. I have exhibited at Pulse, been featured in some magazines and some blogs. I am working on gaining exposure in the home wares market and retailers. I have also just launched a tea gift product range which is very popular.

2.  How did the award and prizes benefit your enterprise?

The award was great because of the exposure it gave me – at this stage of growing a business it is great to get as much exposure as possible. I won an iPad which has also helped considerably in running my business when I am out of my studio.

3. What were your main aims when creating your enterprise?

I love making beautiful things and found that there was a gap in the market for more unusual quirky designs.

4. What would you advise to students and graduates entering the Creative Enterprise Awards in the future?

Firstly to apply! It’s such a great opportunity and such great exposure! Secondly to get together as much as possible to support your project. It’s a great incentive to work towards and aim for.

5. What are your future plans for your business?

I am working on a new range idea and generating more stock especially through supporting the potteries in Stoke – I’m really passionate about British production. I am also developing the tea gift ranges and planning on pitching them to retailers this coming year.

Dmytro Vasylenko: Digital Award

Dmytro Vasylenko

What are you currently working on since winning the Digital Award last year?

Since I won the Creative Enterprise Award, I’ve been working on my project (SocializeLab) up until May 2014.  My team and I have developed various social media and digital marketing strategies for many international and local businesses including; charities, retail, b2b and governmental organisations. It was a great experience but I decided to move on and in June I started my placement in Weber Shandwick one of the world’s leading global public relations firms.  I’ve been working on digital projects for brands such as Motorola, Microsoft, MasterCard, Capgemini and GSMA.

2. How did the award and prizes benefit your Enterprise?

Winning the award helped me gain recognition for my business. Clients and partners saw my project differently after new achievements and the award. Even the badge which is put on the website makes a difference when people view it. My achievement has also made me feel that I am on the right path and adds more enthusiasm in all my efforts. The Guardian Master class which was one of the prizes was a valuable event and aided me in the understanding of start-ups and venture capitalism. The iPad being the 2nd prize has helped with efficiency and is very useful for work and my studies.

3. How is digital technology central to your business?

Within Web-based services my team and I deliver incredible customers service which is our key focus on Digital technologies in my business. My team consists of a manager, graphic designer, marketing consultant, content creator, freelance accountant and community manager. Bloggers are also a big part of our project.  At the moment we work with eight social networks, our central aim is to make brands not “good advertisements”. We strategically develop content which would be interesting for different audiences. Digital technologies assist my team in communicating with each other as team members are internationally based.

4.What was your drive to enter the Creative Enterprise Awards?

I decided to enter the award mainly for exposure and to receive credible feedback. As I’m still a student and still learning I wanted to expose some of my ideas through this project. This is an invaluable experience for networking with other entrepreneurs and creative minds.

5.What would you advise to students and new graduates who want to enter the award in the future?

I would advise anyone who is thinking about starting a business or project, to stop thinking and start doing! This is an amazing experience available for individuals who are brave enough to create a workplace.

Word to the Wise – Purpose and Worth etc

Bloody_well_done image 1

How did the Purpose and Worth etc. first establish itself?

I’d worked for myself since leaving Art college and freelanced solidly as a graphic designer and illustrator before accepting the position of Creative Director at Bisqit Design in London, overseeing design comms for a broad range of global clients and managing and mentoring a small team of designers. After leaving my I CD role, I went back to freelancing and it was during the next five years of freelancing, that I started seriously planning the start-up my own business.

With Purpose & Worth etc, I have come full circle from my design beginnings. I went to art college pre-computers, so I had a traditional craft-based design education, using conventional tools to create—pens, pencils, boards, photography, paper, ink. This hands-on approach to design was one the reasons that I originally wanted to pursue design, but with the introduction of the Mac, the actual process of design changed, relying more heavily on computer based skills and programs. Ironically, developments in digital printing (small print runs, with high quality output on premium papers), have enabled me to launch and grow my business, something that would have been impossible within the limits of conventional printing techniques. I knew nothing about the business of stationery, production or the industry, but I muddled in and found a fantastically helpful and generous group of people in this small industry who patiently answered questions, offered advice and pointed me in the right direction. I launched my first range of Purpose & Worth etc cards at the Progressive Greetings trade show in London in 2010, and landed my first big stockist, Paperchase.

How do you think up new designs and ideas for projects?

I know it’s a cliché, but I carry a small notebook everywhere and jot down ideas, sketches and paste patterns, colours, bit of type and found, random bits into it for inspiration. I always try to interpret an idea in a ‘card range’—so that means imaging and designing a concept as a tool-kit that I can re-purpose through a complete range of card designs. For example, I designed my ‘Who’s counting’ range of birthday cards to easily expand to any birthday.

What key lessons have you learnt through mistakes made setting up the business?

Research, research, research, then just get down to it. I spent a good year (while I was freelancing), researching all the information I could about stationery, printing, pricing, packing and the industry. I went to trade shows, asked questions, joined the industry association and then carefully planned a trade show with lots of time to prepare and launch my first ranges. Perhaps the biggest lesson I’ve learned, is that no matter how much you plan, mistakes happen…and often when and where you least expect them. So I try to be flexible, take a deep breath and find a solution. It’s amazing how helpful people can be when you’ve messed-up. I printed 1500 of the wrong card for a large stockist, but my printer immediately re-printed the order for me the next day and met my delivery date, saving the day and my relationship with my retailer. I lost all my profit on that job, but learned how important supplier relationships are—I sent my printer a very big box of chocolates and a thank you card too!

What has been your proudest moment in your career to date?

I still think the proudest moment was my first trade show and taking my first order. It’s a fantastic feeling to realise that your instincts we’re right, the hard work has paid off and customers seek you out because they love your products and want to stock them in their shops.

What is next for Purpose and Worth etc.?

I’m now expanding into wrapping papers to match my best selling ranges, and designing a premium range of cards which feature luxurious emboss and foiling printing techniques.

Word to the Wise – Olly Gibbs

Imaginary worlds doodle

What are your memories of being a student?

I spent a lot of my time as a student working freelance and trying to balance my Uni work. Proved very difficult as my uni projects took the hit to the dismay of my tutor. Fortunately he was a great inspiration and gave me the drive to push my work when I slipped. I’m very thankful to him! Aside from that I used to enjoy discussing projects with my mates and helping each other to develop new ideas. The crit sessions were vital in improving methods or coming up with new ideas. And then there was the SU Bar…

What drives you to create new work?

I’m someone who likes to dive into new projects all the time. I’ve got a bit of a scatterbrain approach to doing anything new – I’m all over the place playing with ideas. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed, trying new methods, learning new skills. Just looking at my portfolio shows a diverse range – I’m a bit of a hybrid designer and quite hard to pinpoint! It also proves difficult to choose an image that represents me.

How do you stand out when meeting with a potential client for the first time?

The work is obviously important, but the way you present it is key. If you’re going for a digital job, don’t send a PDF, you know? Aside from the work, selling yourself, presenting the brand image you want to display is what will connect with a client. I’ve branded myself as a bit of a quirky designer who loves detail. You need to live your work essentially and try to express your values in the first meeting. And be confident, regardless of whether you have doubts about yourself, go in guns blazing and win the pitch.

Can you tell us a bit more about the Association of Illustrators?

I was told about the AOI before leaving Uni and they’ve proved to be a highly beneficial support group for me. They’re an organisation of experienced professionals who can provide essential guidance in going into the illustration world. They’ve helped me with pricing up jobs, networking with other illustrators as well as putting on talks and workshops. They’re also great at promoting work of the AOI members through twitter/fb and their magazine Varoom! (Which you get delivered as part of being a member) I highly recommend anyone going into Illustration to join!

Who would you most like to work with in the future and why?

I’m not sure there’s anyone in particular but clients who have the same values as me, are a bit of fun and willing to brave new ventures. I guess UsTwo in Shoreditch would be a great company to make work with as they seem to nail the quirky projects, and their team are very determined and passionate about what they do. I also wouldn’t mind doing more in the field of motion graphics/video – I’m still fairly new with this so it’s something I want to explore.

Word to the Wise – Kyle Platts

Born to Kill_Kyle Platts

Who are the artists and illustrators that inspire you most at the moment?

I’m always attracted to work that is silly and aesthetically pleasing but also has the potential to provoke an erudite discussion. Illustrators and artists I’m into at the moment are Mike Kelly, HuskMitNavn, Jacob Ovgren and Edward Carvelho-Monaghan. Also I went to the Camberwell degree show recently and I was really impressed with this guy from Sculpture named Chris Campbell-Palmer.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received and what advice would you pass on to students or recent graduates?

I can’t really remember getting any life changing advice from anyone, but I was watching this YouTube clip the other day of Jim Carrey giving a speech as he received his honorary doctorate, and his message was that you can fail at what you don’t want to do, so you might as well take a chance on the thing you love. I thought that was a great sentiment to share with graduates. My advice would basically be what he said.

What is your proudest achievement to date?

I’m still super proud of the first book (Megaskull) I got published with Nobrow. I never would have thought that was possible coming straight out of university, but they took a chance on me and I’m really grateful.

What are you working on currently?

I’m currently working on a series of Vice articles and some other editorial jobs too. I’m involved in the Cons Project in Peckham which has given me the opportunity to do some big paintings which I’m enjoying. It’s a Converse project that has transformed a warehouse into a skatepark/ music venue/ gallery.

What are your ambitions for the future?

It would be great to work with animators some time and get my characters moving. Also I’ve been skateboarding most of my life so I’ve always wanted to do a board graphic. I’m doing my first board for Blast Skates this year so I’m looking forward to that.