Face-ing Collaboration 2019

Can portrait making support interdisciplinary collaboration?

This research created a model for how researchers can use the faces of project participants to build collaborative relationships. To achieve a circular textile industry – one that has closed complex resource loops at all stages of the lifecycle – collaboration is required between diverse stakeholders.

Working with people from a broad set of backgrounds, cultures, training, professions, with different languages can be extremely challenging, and progress when working together for the first time can be slow. Could textile designers support new collaborations working towards an industry where waste is more often utilised as a resource?

The article focusses on practice-based design research undertaken by the Becky Earley and Rosie Hornbuckle –one with a background in textiles and the other in materials communication – to support the formation of effective working relationships between participants in the multidisciplinary consortium project: Trash-2-Cash. A series of experiments were conducted using photography, visual data mapping, silent meditation and drawing (see Silence Shirts) to bring participants closer together by focussing on faces. The article concludes by proposing this approach as a new method for enabling shared understanding in a multi-disciplinary setting, starting with participants’ portraits and using design practice to build connections between the people within the collaboration.