Emeritus Professor Kay Politowicz

Emeritus Professor of Textile Design & Member of Textile Futures Research Centre

Chelsea College of Arts

Biography

Kay Politowicz is Emeritus Professor of Textile Design, co-founder and Project Director for the Textiles Environment Design (TED) research group, which has developed strategies for designers to address the environmental, social and economic impact of the life cycle of textile products. She has been instrumental in establishing the post of Research Fellow and the TED Resource at Chelsea. TED research has contributed significantly to the successful designation of the Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) at UAL. She is an active member of the UK Association of Fashion and Textiles Courses (FTC).

Previously, as Course Director for BA (Hons) Textile Design at Chelsea, Politowicz developed a course known for a high level of achievement in specialist material processes and for an environmental focus to curriculum developments within the subject. In her current role, she devises strategies to connect the taught curriculum at BA and MA level, and to develop opportunities for participation in practice-based research projects. Politowicz’s practice has evolved into collaborative projects with design partners to test theories of sustainable design for innovation in the production, use and disposal of textiles.

Research interests

Textiles and the environment, production processes.

Research statement

In leading the TED research platform, I have encouraged staff, students and graduate designers to collaborate in the development of projects and events, which explore the potential for fabrics to change or define an environment.I explore materials and processes, from principles inherent in life cycle analysis of a product for interior and fashion contexts. I locate, develop and promote practical opportunities in which students and graduates can work together in research teams to investigate theories of sustainable design.

I co-curated the ‘Sustainability/Responsible Living’ section of the corporate summit exhibition for US company Odyssey Vanity Fair Corporation, to demonstrate interconnected design for the development of sustainable approaches in their worldwide textile and fashion brands.

In May 2011, the TED platform in TFRC made a successful project proposal as part of a research consortium, ‘MISTRA Future Fashion’ (2011–15/19), funded by the Swedish government through Mistra, The Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research. As a consequence, I was invited to become Visiting Professor at Konstfack University College of Art, Craft and Design, Stockholm, Sweden, for the duration of the project.

Students

Current students and thesis titles

Matilda AspinallUnpicked: Historical refashioning skills as a foundation for sustainable clothing design.

Completed students and thesis titles

Jennifer Ballie, E-co-Textile Design: How can a textile design practice sustainably influence an emerging digital consumer culture?

Kate Goldsworthy, Laser-Finishing: A New Process for Designing Recyclability in Synthetic Textiles.

Shu-fang Huang, The Traces of a Traveller: Textile-based Narrative in Contemporary Art Practices.

Selected research outputs