Lindsay Hanson 0:00
So I'm in my student dorm room, cooking rice, and I decided to give his lab another call. The phone rings, I wait thinking it's gonna go to voicemail. Then suddenly I hear a hello on the other end. I panic. I didn't think he was gonna answer. Quickly, I started describing what I wanted to do for the degree show. As I described my idea, I grabbed the graphene handbook sitting next to my desk and I started rattling off the properties of graphene, and why I think this material would be ideal for my textile project. Now, a brief description of what graphene is, could be useful if you're speaking to someone outside of the field, which I wasn't, and the description becomes even less useful when you're speaking to the Nobel laureate. This conversation that I had with Professor Kostya Novoselov marked the first of many to come, and eventually led me into his lab where I was able to create RGB ink with the help of Dr. Nazmul Kareem. Today I describe myself more as a material designer than a fashion designer, which is what I started off as. See I've always loved design, especially in cubism, surrealism, optical illusions and abstract pieces. I like the idea of taking something 2D, like a sketch and transforming it into something 3D, like a dress. So from Nebraska, I decided to move to Paris to study fashion.
Lindsay Hanson 1:28
Now, usually when I tell people I've studied fashion in Paris, I get the impression you guys think I've made stuff. And just to clarify, I tend to make stuff like this, or this. I like to bring back that optical illusion or abstract essence back into my work. By the time I finished my degree, I knew I wanted to make the switch from fashion to material design. So I took an MA course at the world renowned Art and Design School Central Saint Martins. My first project was about a new biomaterial for a running shoe called resistance runner. And with this shoe, I speculated that the active bacteria biofilm would be able to kill or inhibit antibiotic resistant bacteria from growing or penetrating the surface area of the shoe, thus causing harm to the wearer. It was the perfect shoe for people traveling into countries where resistant bugs were on the rise.
Lindsay Hanson 2:31
By the time I was approaching my final year, I knew I wanted to merge my old practice of fashion with my new practice in material design. And when I started to think about the fashion industry, and how much damage it continues to cause our ecosystem, sustainability was on my mind. Now, I've never liked the sustainable solutions given to this industry thus far. To me, they seemed very unsustainable. With a solution always being buy less or buy used. I just didn't see how this would be possible in capitalistic consumer fed countries. And with a growing population of 7.9 billion. I speculate that individualization and self-expression will become more vital than ever. And when you consider how many people work in this industry, buying less or buying used would mean significant layoffs for most. However, the industry does need a bit of a makeover. It is the second largest carbon polluter next to oil and gas and one cotton t-shirt takes roughly 3000 litres of water to produce, while a pair of blue jeans is well past seven. And that's before dye is even added to the mix.
Lindsay Hanson 3:43
When I started to think about all of this, it became apparent to me that the problem with the fast fashion industry was color. And what I started to notice was that each year, the trend seemed to keep multiplying, and it was the color of the garment changing the most rather than the overall silhouette. And this actually made a lot of sense to me. Remembering my time in Paris, it always took much longer to drape an entirely new piece than to just take an existing piece and simply change its color to create a new look. Natural dyes are also becoming more popular for a sustainable solution. And while yes, they do significantly cut back on the amount of fresh water needed to dye a particular garment, they don't really solve the sustainability issue out large. If the trend was yellow, and now it's green, the consumer is still gonna want a new t-shirt. So that's another 3000 liters of water needed to produce that one t-shirt which will most likely be shipped to multiple countries to be made, then shipped to the warehouse and then shipped to the consumer, assuming they've ordered online. And what if that particular t shirt runs too small?
Lindsay Hanson 5:03
You'd have to repeat a third of the steps. When I approached Kostya, I told him I wanted to make a color changing fiber. Where I was certain I could do this with graphene. I mean at the
time, I was studying the material for about a month, so I was practically an expert and knew exactly what I was talking about. I told him, I wanted to make and still do want to make a pigment list color changing fiber. As we started this journey, I was fortunate enough to meet his exceptional network of physicists and chemists. And it almost struck me as odd how easy it was to tell them my objectives, versus how hard it was to relate that same message to the design side. In one design tutorial I had at my university I remember being asked what graphene was. So I started to explain it as a 2D material, only to get cut off by the visiting lecturer, who was holding up a single piece of paper and said, No, this is a 2D material. Now, this caught me off guard and at the time, I didn't even know how to respond. She was right, in design a 2D material is just a flat object. And when you mold that object into something else, then it becomes 3D. Suddenly, I realized there was a massive gap in the language between art and science.
Lindsay Hanson 6:34
Because 2D materials could also mean nanomaterials. So I created these to help explain my idea to both sides. With these, I could visualize what the material looked like. From a design side while still being able to kind of work with the material from the science side. I would make a series of these and I would email Kostya, just to double check on exactly what I made and if they even did anything. The quest of creating a new color changing fiber has spun the creation of two new startups, optical ink for the R&D and digital couture for design education. This past year, I've been fortunate enough to receive the support from both SIT and Aelmira, who have helped me create a new online course for MA design students in the topic areas of advanced materials, big data and wearable technology.
Lindsay Hanson 7:35
Written by a designer and corrected by a physicist. This course aims to provide an in depth overview on new materials for textile applications, and in order to receive the best learning outcomes. This course provides interactive models, quizzes, and labs to better explain more of the complex methodology, so that the next generation of designers will be able to know how much graphene is needed to power a t-shirt versus a dress or the property differences in between nanomaterials and metamaterials. In fact, an example of the work that might be generated from this course is actually on stage with me right now. I would like to give a big shout out and thank you to Dr. Kareem for providing the graphene textile, and to both Professor Novoselov and Professor Hu for helping me program it.
Lindsay Hanson 8:54
So, inside my dress, there's pockets that are made with a graphene textile that can monitor my heart rate. So you can all see how very relaxed I am on stage. This is just one example of the kinds of outcomes design and scientific collaboration can achieve. Thank you!