From Disposable to Sustainable: the Complex Interplay between Design and Consumption of Textiles and Clothing

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Doctoral thesis (article-based)
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Aalto University publication series DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, 84/2011
This study approaches the complex interplay of consumption, the meaning of products, and person-product relationships in the context of textiles and clothing. By doing so, it opens novel views into our material world and contemporary consumer culture, and it especially shows how consumption patterns are linked to the current industrial system of designing and manufacturing. The purpose of this study is to understand more deeply the balance (or unbalance) in Sustainable Consumption and Production, SCP. Drawing on literature from psycho-sociology, sociology, philosophy and economics, the study constructs alternative views to sustainable design. The study explores sustainable textile and clothing design through person-product relationships by approaching them in the light of previous theories and by applying this knowledge to empirical analysis. Three consumer questionnaires were conducted and analyzed to provide information on consumers’ environmental interest and person-product relationships. This novel consumer-centered knowledge is then transferred onto the design discipline to provide knowledge on human aspects in sustainability. The dissertation is comprised of seven research articles. This study both extends and narrows the views on sustainable design. Firstly, narrow insight, or knowledge from a more micro perspective, is provided on person-product attachments and consumer satisfaction in the field of textiles and clothing. Deep insights into consumers’ values and environmental interests and commitment are furthermore presented in articles. Secondly the study extends the approach by including the design perspective into the focus of attention, and the human aspects of consumption are especially examined as they pertain to the sustainable design field. Hence this research extends previous studies by approaching issues in sustainable design more holistically. The study constructs a theoretical discussion on how to strengthen the person-product relationship through various design strategies or through a Product-Service System (PSS) approach by either deepening the person-product attachment or better delivering consumer satisfaction. Furthermore the study opens a conceptual discussion on new value creation, which offers opportunities to find new paths towards more sustainable design, manufacturing and consumption of textiles and clothing. Finally, by addressing radical change the study discusses the new value creation that is needed in the SCP agenda. Designers have an important role by creating far-sighted and future-oriented sustainable design, which can change consumption behaviors towards more sustainable ones. In this way design for sustainability can be a redirective practice that aims for sustainable consumption.
Thesis advisor
Räisänen, Riikka
sustainable design, product satisfaction, person-product attachment, sustainable textiles, sustainable fashion
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