Design Residency at Aalto University’s School of Chemical Engineering

Miriam Ribul received a funding award from the AHRC’s Student Development Fund (SDF) towards a design residency at the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems at Aalto University in Finland between December 2017 and January 2018. The aims of the residency at Aalto University’s School of Chemical Engineering were to prototype the final artefacts for the practice-based elements of the PhD that demonstrate new processes for textiles in the circular bioeconomy. As design researcher in residence in Professor Herbert Sixta’s group, Miriam introduced design prototyping into the science laboratory for a transdisciplinary practice at the intersection of material science and textile design.

 

The residency enabled design prototyping with post-consumer cellulose based materials at the raw material stage in chemical recycling of textiles. As a designer in residence with the department, Miriam had the unique opportunity to work with the Ioncell technology, an award-winning non-toxic process that closes the loop of textiles recycling through strong, regenerated fibres from multiple waste sources such as cotton, cardboard and newspaper.

 

Fibre spinning lab

Fibre spinning lab

Laboratory in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Laboratory in the Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the practice-based work during the residency, Miriam gained deep insights into the state-of-the-art materials science laboratory and specific processes for closed loop regenerated cellulose technology. During her time in the lab, she was the only design researcher working amongst doctoral candidates developing pioneering research in the field of cellulose chemistry. Her research identified solutions for the material requirements of textiles in closed loop chemical recycling in a circular bioeconomy. Miriam’s work space within the laboratory transformed into a design-science space for a designer-chemist’s practice. The residency provided the opportunity to prototype the findings from Miriam’s research during two residencies she completed at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden at a larger scale and to introduce new tools for the experiments.

 

Design-science work space

Design-science work space

Next to the project hosts, the residency was supported by a cohort of scientists at Aalto University who facilitated engaging interdisciplinary conversations, knowledge into the laboratory processes and insights into the technology.