Industrial designer Alexander Taylor is known for his forward-thinking approach and is fêted for his revolutionary mastery of materials. Some of his most meaningful recent work includes developing trainers made from ocean plastics in collaboration with Parley for the Oceans. His latest venture is the launch of a responsible clothing brand.
We try to offer viable, intelligent solutions, which are an improvement on what already exists. They can start with small, incremental design updates and there can be macro changes, when you assess the whole build process. That might take you into systems – changing supply chains, materials, the production line. You might start talking about geographical scenarios and shifting the whole production set-up. It can lead us to reassess something or to propose something entirely new to a market.
What is sustainable design?
A good design method naturally leads to a sustainable solution. For example, I’d never designed shoes before my first project with Adidas. The brief was to design footwear with technologies that weren’t in the supply chain. A group of us visited a factory in Germany and realised how many parts go into one shoe – up to 20 at that time. My approach was to propose 3D knitting and ask whether we can make a shoe in one process: not look at designing one shoe but at how we design shoes altogether. Now they make 22 million knitted shoes a year.
“A good design method naturally leads to a sustainable solution”
How has this developed into your own line of clothing?
We didn’t want to make new materials so we looked at the deadstock of a performance-clothing factory called ktc – warehouses of beautiful technical materials that could end up being burnt or sent to landfill. We defined that as the structure by which we would create bags and clothing that would all be “limited edition” by the finite nature of the material.
To hear the full interview, listen to The Art of Moving Forward podcast on monocle.com.