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Design for sustainability

Researchers from UAL are at the forefront of using design to generate new insights and approaches to address the challenges – and possibilities – of sustainability.

Building on extended academic research, teaching and knowledge exchange practices, as well as deep connections with industry, UAL’s design researchers and PhD students are developing and testing new insights, methods, tools, concepts and forms of exploration.

Learn about the award-winning Centre for Sustainable Fashion and read highlights and insights from projects across UAL.

A person holding a flower pot made out of seaweed
Seaweed flower pots by Diana Tso

Highlights

  • Sustainable Fast-Fashion Installation by Jenny Banks.
    Sustainable Fast-Fashion Installation by Jenny Banks, Central Saint Martins. © John Sturrock
    Micro and small businesses pioneer visions of sustainability  

    The Fostering Sustainable Practices project, funded by the AHRC, is looking at how design-led fashion micro and small enterprises are realising sustainability in social, environmental, cultural and economic terms.

  • Cork Structure with Plants installation
    Cork Structure with Plants, image courtesy of UAL
    Envisioning new sustainable materials for the future  

    The Design and Living Systems Lab explores the interface of biological sciences and design to envision new sustainable materials through practice-based research.

  • Photograph of dyed textures that look like fish skin
    Tokushima indigo dye museum, Indigo dyeing on fish skin. Image taken by Takayuki Ishii, 2019
    Fish skin as sustainable new leather

    This EU-funded project is working to develop a new category of raw material for fashion – fish leather – by bringing together knowledge from fashion design, materials science and marine biology.

  • Close up of fabric being cut
    Image by Guillaume Valli
    World’s first digital course in fashion and sustainability  

    The Centre for Sustainable Fashion launched the world’s first open-access digital course in luxury fashion and sustainability supported by luxury fashion group Kering.

Insights

The Centre for Sustainable Fashion aims to develop fashion design and sustainability knowledge and practice through a systemic approach to transforming the fashion system from one with the economy at its core, to one where its dynamic economic activities contribute to social and ecological prosperity.

Professor Dilys Wiliams, Centre for Sustainable Fashion
The arts and humanities can contribute to planetary health, by complementing rational modes of understanding with creative imagination and critical reflection, and by engaging people through affective and embodied experience with the ethical and emotional complexity of ecological regeneration and restorative justice.

David Cross, Reader in Art and Design, Chelsea College of Arts

Publications

Read all publications

More themes

  • Exterior of Make space with people on ladders
    Make @ Story Garden (photo: Adam Razvi)
    Value and valuation through design

    Exploring how value is created and understood through design and use.

  • Woman reading London underground map
    Braille tube map by Ziyue Wang, photographed by David Poultney
    Systems and design

    Improving the ways in which designers can develop a better understanding of the contexts they design for and in.

  • People sat around a blackboard
    Make @ Story Garden (photo: Adam Razvi)
    Policy contexts and implications

    Developing a better understanding of policymaking, design and public policy.

  • Three images of model wearing various materials
    Image courtesy of UAL
    Circular design

    Circular design aims to support people and planet through emerging technology, systems design, new materials, social innovation and more.

  • Farmers having a discussion in a workshop
    A co-design session with dairy farmers, image courtesy of Alison Prendiville
    Health and wellbeing

    Working with external partners in the life and medical sciences to produce insights and new, actionable ideas, based on people’s lived experiences.

  • People at a flower market
    Columbia Road Flower Market by Jo Mansfield
    Place and community

    Researchers at UAL use design to engage, inspire and support communities and places.

  • Student at a grad show
    Image courtesy of UAL
    Public and social innovation

    UAL researchers use approaches from design to intervene in public sector, government and social innovation contexts.

  • A group of people wearing anti-theft bags
    Caption Young people with anti-theft bags by Design Against Crime Research Centre, photographed by Tom Willcocks
    Social action and criminal justice

    UAL's ground-breaking work using design research to address issues in the criminal justice system and to facilitate social action.