Professor Carole Collet

Profile image of Professor in Design For Sustainable Futures Director, Design & Living Systems Lab

Professor in Design For Sustainable Futures Director, Design & Living Systems Lab

Central Saint Martins

Biography

Carole Collet has dedicated her career to developing a new vision for design, and pioneered the discipline of Textile Futures at Central Saint Martins fifteen years ago. She is now a full-time Professor and Director of the Design & Living Systems Lab at Central Saint Martins. Her research focuses on exploring the intersection of biology and design to develop speculative and disruptive sustainable design proposals. Collet operates within a long-term framework and her research targets the year 2050 and beyond. By anticipating future key socio-economic factors and technological timelines, she aims at impacting today’s design directions so as to enable a more resilient and sustainable future. Collet’s ambition is to elevate the status of design to become a powerful tool that contributes to developing innovative paths to achieve the ‘one planet lifestyle’.

Her recent curation of ‘Alive, New Design Frontierswww.thisisalive.com questions the emerging role of the designer when working with living materials and technologies such as synthetic biology and clearly establishes a new original framework for designing with the living. One of Collet’s characteristics is that she straddles different research roles, from designer, to curator and educator. This enables her to develop an informed critique of both the design outputs and the design contexts, from making knowledge to framing knowledge.

Her work has been featured in international exhibitions and she regularly contributes to conferences on the subject of textile futures, biodesign, biomimicry, synthetic biology, future manufacturing, sustainable design and climate change.

Research interests

Sustainability, future design, disruptive technologies, design-science collaborations, biomimicry, biology, botany, synthetic biology, biomaterials, biofacture, living systems, future scoping, textile futures, resilience, planetary boundaries, climate change, 2050.

Research statement

Collet believes that design is a pervasive tool that can enable us to create compelling disruptive innovations to actuate the ‘one planet living’ scenario.

With the emerging biological revolution and a set of extraordinary toolkits that allow us to engineer and program life from scratch, comes a need to reevaluate the position and potential of design. Designers have begun to either embrace or rebel against this emerging bioengineered world and as a result, new design directions are beginning to arise (see Alive exhibition).

Collet is interested in exploring this new design landscape where fragments of a possible programmable synthetic future are confronted with ‘natural’ alternative design perspectives. Hence, her research is focused is on a design-led investigation of biological sciences to explore new design methodologies to ‘grow’ future sustainable products and services. 

Students

Current students and thesis titles

Elena Brebenel, Can biomimicry help design furnishings for the domestic environment that improve air quality?

Amy Congdon, Tissue Engineered Textiles; ‘Can the integration of textile craft with tissue-engineering techniques lead to the development of a new materiality for future design applications?’

Miriam Ribul, Material Activism: The role of design research in the scientific development of regenerated textiles in a circular economy.

Completed students and thesis titles

Aurelie Mosse, Gossamer Timescapes: Designing Self-­actuated Textiles for the Home. A PhD jointly supervised by CITA, Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture, Denmark and the Textile Futures Research Centre at UAL.

Jane Scott, Programmable Knitting.

Selected research outputs