Ford Design Challenge Turns Sustainable Seat Fabrics Into Couture

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Ecouterre is a media sponsor of the 2014/15 EcoChic Design Award

What does fashion have to do with automobiles? Plenty, if you ask Ford. In the run-up to the finals of the 2014/15 EcoChic Design Award on Thursday, the car company challenged 10 emerging designers to create garments from a mix of textile waste and its own eco-friendly upholstery. Held in collaboration with Redress, the Hong Kong-based textile nonprofit behind the annual competition, the inaugural Redress Forum: Ford Design Challenge sought to highlight the importance of sustainable thinking in both the fashion and automotive industries.

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DRIVING FASHION

Malaysia’s Veronica Lee and Sweden’s Amandah Andersson produced the winning look: a coat and dress inspired by the bamboo scaffolding at the Hong Kong Legislative Council.

Leveraging the earthy color palette of Ford’s seat fabrics, which are derived in part from post-consumer plastic bottles, the outfit juxtaposed different textures to elegant effect.

“We scored the foam on the reverse side of the seat fabric, revealing color and texture reminiscent of the stone walls of the legislature,” Andersson said of the design, which took three hours to create by hand.

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“We would like to congratulate these budding designers for successfully rising to this challenging task of creating fashionable out of a technical material like car seat fabric,” Emily Lai, manager of color and materials design at Ford Asia Pacific, said later.

More than 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is determined during the design phase, according to Lai. “Designers have the power to affect environmental waste through their designs and the design process, and can minimize this total impact through the creative use of materials and other innovations,” she said. “All the creations we have seen today are examples of this, and we applaud each participant for rising to the challenge.”

Landfill-bound waste is one of the planet’s biggest challenges, added Christina Dean, founder and CEO of Redress. “The Redress Forum: Ford Design Challenge was a great demonstration of how sustainable design thinking is as relevant for fashion as it is for the automotive industry,” she mused.

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