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2021 Graduate Winner

Université Concordia Graduate

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Culture de la couleur : Une écolittératie du design textile / Culture of color: an ecoliteracy of textile design

Scientific studies have shown that the synthetic dyes we wear can interfere with our body and cause serious health problems. From a design perspective, Vanessa presents an art and science approach to wearable colors, which invites designers to reflect on the development of non-toxic textile dyes. Inspired by the way the natural world builds its own materials, at room temperature and without waste, her speculative exploration uses food waste to provide pigment-producing bacteria with the nutrients they need to develop a rich palette of hues. The combination of ancient techniques of vegetable dyes, with contemporary methods of color production achieved by living organisms, allows her to get most color shades from the Pantone palette (the worldwide color reference in fashion), usually synthetically tinted from petrochemical compounds. This path of inquiry, questioning the interconnection between the living and the material environment, has led her to the development of a textile ecoliteracy, defined as an ecological culture in design. This concept, based on a better knowledge of the natural world, allows productions to respect the ecosystems, while promoting social and emotional engagement in support of sustainable design practices.

Vanessa Mardirossian has worked as a textile designer for over 20 years. First in Paris, for Christian Lacroix fashion house and Nelly Rodi trend studio, then in Montreal for the Dynamite Group. Concerned about the polluting aspect of the fashion industry and its effects on health, she began a doctoral research 4 years ago at Concordia University, where she is developing a critical reflection on current textile practices. Her creative research engages in an iterative dialogue between design, chemistry and environmental health, to reflect on textile materiality and to address complex societal issues through the prism of biodesign and color. Her research-creation consists in developing a “textile ecoliteracy”, namely a knowledge of sustainable techniques that minimize the environmental impact of textile dyes. She also teaches at the École Supérieure de Mode ESG-Uqam for 4 years, where sustainable development is at the heart of her pedagogy.

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