Exploring Circular Opportunities For Designer-Makers

We know that the world is facing unprecedented challenges in relation to climate change, population growth, urbanisation and globalisation and that the current linear economic model (make, use, dispose) is not sustainable. The Circular Crafting has been positioned as a means of alleviating this pressure and maintaining and replenishing the world’s resources. It also helps us to radically rethink how, where and why we make things, and what we consume.

This collaborative research project aims to build greater understanding of the work of individuals and organisations engaging with the circular economy. We are particularly interested in those developing and working on environmentally sustainable, ethical and local manufacturing systems that are/could be applied to designer-maker enterprises as a way of rethinking creative-production.

We aim to map this network and identify potential service gaps or missing connections in order to support further collaboration and knowledge sharing.

From making from waste materials and developing new biodegradable ones, to repairing, refurbishing, reusing and recycling products, to developing service models, designer-makers are already integrating circular design practices into their businesses and ways of working. However, being circular as a small enterprise in a product-based industry is challenging. This initial research will support the development of a research framework and methodology to explore further opportunities and barriers for designer-makers in adopting circular design systems, practices and business models.

This research is being conducted by Dr Lauren England, Lecturer in Culture, Media & Creative Industries at King’s College London, and designer/maker Julian Leedham. The project was funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Institute at King’s College London and an ESRC Impact Acceleration Grant through King’s College London.

If you are interested in learning more or being involved with this project, you can download our project reports below or send us an email at hello@varioustudios.com. We look forward to hearing from you.

Project Team

Dr Lauren England conducted this project at King’s College London as a Lecturer in the Department of Culture Media & Creative Industries. She is now a Lecturer in Creative Economies at Duncan Jordanstone College of Art & Design at the University of Dundee (UK). Her PhD at King’s College London in partnership with Crafts Council UK investigated higher education and business development in UK contemporary craft. Lauren has published research on craft skills evolution, social enterprises and precarious work in the creative economy. Her current research explores sustainable creative economy development in both Global North and Global South contexts.

Julian Leedham is an independent designer/maker based in London. Working across different mediums his aim is to create unified pieces that bring together aesthetics, function and ethical  practice. In 2017 he founded Varioustudios as a collaborative creative studio. In 2019 it hosted On Growth and Form, an exhibition held during that year’s London Design Festival. Since then Varioustudios has grown to become a platform that incorporates all these ideals, affording creative practitioners the opportunity to network and collaborate in similar ways.

Acknowledgements 

We would like to thank the following funders and individuals for their support. The Arts & Humanities Research Institute and King’s College London for the initial funding and use of the REACH space. In particular we are grateful for the support of Ed Stevens and Anna Khlusova. We also thank the Arts & Humanities Faculty at King’s College London for their support through the Innovation Fund. Finally, we are grateful for the funding received through the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and especially for the support of Niall Sreenan from the Policy Institute at King’s College London. We also wish to thank our partners in this project for their contributions and support, Zoe Powell and Pilar Bolumburu from Materiom, Julia Bennett from Crafts Council UK and David Crump from Cockpit Arts. Last but by no means least, we thank Joanna Czerwinska for her work in developing this website.