Miriam Ribul

Material Activism: The role of design research in the scientific development of regenerated textiles for a circular economy

Date: 2015 – ongoing

Supervisory Team: Dr. Kate Goldsworthy, Prof. Rebecca Earley and Prof. Carole Collet


Miriam’s area of investigation is at the intersection of material science and design research. By exploring how design can offer new insights for textiles when designers intervene with materials; not in their finished form, but in the science laboratory, this PhD research intends to develop a design-led paradigm for textile manufacturing in the context of a 21st century circular economy.


This practice-based research poses the question: What is the role of design research in the scientific development of regenerated textiles in a circular economy?


In a circular economy, materials that are disposed of at the end of their lives are reinvested into a new lifecycle, and resources are retained in a closed loop (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2014). Despite an increased effort to adopt circular models for product design, there is a limited number of textiles that achieve this. However, recent developments in chemical recycling of cellulose fibres that are derived from plants have succeeded in producing unmatched, high quality recycled fibres. After disposal, these materials can be brought back to their raw material stage, before being regenerated for new use. In this PhD research, design will intervene in the material science laboratory to enable sustainable textile manufacturing where material processes inform a production with reduced impacts across the lifecycle.


The aims are to develop and document new models for textile design interventions through design-science collaboration in the fabrication of new regenerated textiles, and to create a range of textile artefacts that emerge from these interventions.

Ribul Miriam

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