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Charleen Elberskirch


Beginn des PhD-Programms / Start of the PhD-Program​: WS 2021

Betreuung / Supervision:
Manuela Naveau
Christine Schranz (ECAM; HGK FHNW in Basel)

My research is prompted by the negative ecological impacts of a global, highly interconnected industry: the fashion industry's prevailing mode of operation, fast fashion, is characterised by production and distribution systems that constantly generate new, mass-produced clothing at relatively low prices. Production is fast-moving, outsourced, vertically integrated and able to respond quickly to market changes (Muthu 2019). Every year, 108 million tonnes of non-renewable resources are consumed in clothing production. Every second, the equivalent of one truck of textiles is destroyed worldwide (Ellen Mc Arthur Foundation 2017). Meanwhile, one-third of plastic waste in the oceans comes from the fashion industry (World Economic Forum Davos 2020). If consumers and businesses continue their current path, the fashion industry alone will claim 26% of the calculated carbon budget for meeting the two-degree target in 2050. Yet, a garment's environmental footprint could be reduced by more than 20% simply by extending its lifetime by one third (Vignali et al. 2020). Considering the significant adverse environmental impacts, especially of the primary production of textiles, I focus on a scenario in which waste materials from the textile industry (production and consumption) are used as resource for new clothing. In particular, the methods of areal recycling (reuse of textiles as partial areas) will be explored. The intention is to examine how these principles can be extended with the help of digital technologies in the sense of sustainable design. A further central aspect of the research is concerned with the linked aesthetic potentials. This practice-oriented research sees itself as differentiated intervention in the ongoing processes of the fashion industry and as a basis for momentous developments. It includes the question of the changing self-image of designers and contemporary design practice.

Kurz-Biographie / Short Bio
Charleen Elberskirch is a Basel-based designer and researcher. She holds a B.A. in Fashion Design from the Academy of Fashion & Design Düsseldorf (2016) and an M.A. from Masterstudio Design at HGK FHNW Basel (2019). In her current position as a PhD candidate of the Make/Sense programme, she investigates the potential of digital technologies related to waste materials from the textile industry. Beyond that, she is working within the SNF-funded project Commons in Design. Both projects address questions of contemporary design practice in the context of digitalisation and the changing self-image of designers. Among others, Charleen was nominated for the Bundespreis Ecodesign and the German Design Award. She displayed her projects in the framework of various exhibitions, most recently as part of Making Fashion Sense (2020) at HeK, Haus der elektronischen Künste Basel.