Pushing the Frontiers of Innovation: Crafts That Concern and Communicate

Innovation and sustainability are not disparate elements — they go hand in hand at Munich Fabric Start. The Sustainable Innovations forum at the event is a stepping stone towards big things for startups and design entrepreneurs. Simon Angel, the Curator of Sustainable Innovations, talks about newcomers and industry. Brought to you in association with and being presented at Munich Fabric Start

Long Story, Cut Short
  • We are leaving the era of RE-thinking; we are entering an era of PRE-thinking. We can challenge ourselves in critical self-reflection with a future smile.
  • You need people who bridge the gap between the studio and the market.
Nature as a 3D printer: material designer and underwater photographer Zena Holloway creates shapes and forms from wheat grass roots that grow in self-carved moulds made of beeswax. Each growth cycle produces a different result – all products are therefore individual pieces that can be further shaped by cutting, sewing, tearing or linking. For example, they  can be used to create large, hanging structures, to shape vessels or to produce clothing and accessories.
Back to Nature Nature as a 3D printer: material designer and underwater photographer Zena Holloway creates shapes and forms from wheat grass roots that grow in self-carved moulds made of beeswax. Each growth cycle produces a different result – all products are therefore individual pieces that can be further shaped by cutting, sewing, tearing or linking. For example, they can be used to create large, hanging structures, to shape vessels or to produce clothing and accessories. Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions

What is currently happening in the industry of innovators, transformers and forward thinkers?
Different developments can be observed — especially when it comes to upcoming designers and creators, which is very interesting yet inspiring.

Newcomers are about either entering the industry or creating their own one; furthermore, they all developed a very high professionalism in everything they do and how they present their ideas. Storytelling matters, that’s why we see crafts that concern and that communicate about thoughts, materials and backgrounds. 

They somehow reflect on the state of the industry and/or they question current systems. Just with the eye on possibilities, not to add critique. It is a friendly way to inspire.

You just said creators are “entering the industry or creating their own one”. What do you mean by that?
Well, actually right — as I say. Either people and ideas enter an industry OR they create an industry. Entering means that designers or creators just fit into an industry and can get part of it or they can develop their own techniques and make it scalable and somehow create their own. 

Let me give you an example: Wint Design Lab discovered a new material and also discovered how to use it in order to make it relevant for the market. Either they can enter the industry OR if they find possibilities to cover all the needs within the supply chain and develop the machines to produce in a big scale, they could go big and just create their own industry.

What other developments can you identify?
Back in the days, let’s say about five years ago, there was mainly one person behind a new idea that was working within a tiny studio. Compared to that, everything is so much more professional: being a material designer, you can have a studio and work with employees who assist. That is nowadays how designers get ready to present their idea to the market. 
You need people who bridge the gap between the studio and the market. I personally recognise a huge potential in this point of professionalism, because people get ready to connect — young designers now offer representative samples and get in touch with the industry on a very professional level. Newcomers inspire the industry.

From bio-synthetically grown collagen substrate – vegan and biodegradable, Wint Design Lab has  created a running jacket that meets both aesthetic and functional demands.
Durable and Recyclable From bio-synthetically grown collagen substrate – vegan and biodegradable, Wint Design Lab has created a running jacket that meets both aesthetic and functional demands. Munich Fabric Start Exhibitions

That sounds very interesting. What do the newcomers do differently?
Things that impress the industry: crafts that concern and communicate. The designers and their innovations want to tell us stories: it’s about the material, systems (and old behaviours) but also the designs. We can get glimpses into cultural backgrounds, different techniques, social aspects and so much more.

For example, the project “Rootful” by Zena Holloway and the project “Choub” by Mehdi Mashayekhi show off how to create a material out of seagrass or wood with the implemented idea to use the finished garment or the designs as tools to communicate.

That’s a positive development, isn’t it?
Yes, it is. But one thing should not be forgotten: we are in the middle of a delicate discussion on the urgency of creating, within that everybody has to put their own position into a fresh perspective. I sometimes find it important to take a bit of a distance and ask rhetorically questions like: So what? We are leaving the era of RE-thinking; we are entering an era of PRE-thinking.  We can challenge ourselves in critical self-reflection with a future smile. 

We should not design just to be a designer or cook just for the sake of being a chef. We should not create just to be a creator. We should not just buy new stuff, only for the sake of being a consumer. Way more, we should cook when people need food, design when designs are not good enough and create when the world needs a new product. Let’s stay critical and ask ourselves over and over again: how do our actions contribute to the better?

You need people who bridge the gap between the studio and the market. I personally recognise a huge potential in this point of professionalism, because people get ready to connect — young designers now offer representative samples and get in touch with the industry on a very professional level. Newcomers inspire the industry.

Simon Angel
Simon Angel / Curator, Sustainable Innovations / Munic Fabric Start
 
 
  • Dated posted 20 January 2023
  • Last modified 20 January 2023