The Consumer Experience (CX) research strand draws on interdisciplinary expertise spanning textiles experience, social science research, neuroscience and psychology, human computer interaction and affective computing, multisensory research and design, and information experience design. Shared interests in multimodality, sensory experience, materiality, the body and environment, and meaning-making intersects these disciplines and weaves through our research programme. Our collective approach is human-centred, and we take a phenomenological stand, we thus see individuals, society, and environment as integrated.
Our team is formed by academics from the Royal College of Art (Materials Science Research Centre and Information Experience Design) and UCL (UCL Institute of Education, UCL Interaction Centre, UCL Department of Computer Science and UCL Division of Psychology and Language Sciences).
The Consumer Experience (CX) programme of research will allow for increased consumer participation across the material flow, underpinned by a deeper understanding of wellbeing. The CX research strand will:
- Establish a feedback loop between consumers’ experience and textiles development that contributes to textiles circularity.
- Enable consumers to engage in co-creation of products and work with design brands to reimagine participation.
- Design consumer experiences and technologies that enable consumers’ immersion in textiles circularity.
To achieve this, the CX research is organised through three phases: Design Phase, Innovate Phase and Apply Phase.
This research will provide insights to facilitate a change in cultures of consumption and adoption of the novel circular textiles, offering an alternative to the fast fashion model. This new culture is based on a new relationship between consumers and their products; one where we see consumers as custodians of textiles.
Challenge 1. Promote a new culture of consumption:
Conspicuous consumption is fuelled by a market that exploits the human need for instant gratification and status building. The novel culture we aim to create will instead fulfil the more sustainable needs of (1) meaningful, co-creative engagement with the physical world of materials; (2) active exploration of physical possibilities and sensory experiences and (3) finally social participation in a shared, multisensory narrative with continuity and historicity.
Challenge 2. Address the ethical consumption gap:
At present, there is a gap in ethical consumption between human intention and action. This gap is heightened as consumers are increasingly exposed to various new textile options, reportedly more sustainable alternatives, and to increase in product/material information load in the interest of transparency in the supply chain. Although these are critical for a circular economy, these require greater consumer effort to navigate complexity and knowledge to make decisions. We have a challenge to facilitate these processes, so that consumers become an active part in a circular textiles economy.
Challenge 3. Facilitate the adoption of waste-based textiles:
Having new circular waste-based textiles at hand, we also have a challenge to position them. This challenge is emphasised by the fact that not only we need to reduce the average 20-year time lag for the market uptake of new materials, but also to make sure that these textiles are embedded in sustainable cultures of consumption.
We aim to create a new culture of consumption that will meet the demands of the market for greater sustainability, whilst giving consumers greater agency to respect their environment. This requires a new relationship between consumers and their products. We will achieve this through five main objectives:
- Create a novel framework to guide empirical investigations of consumer experiences in textile circularity, grounded in ‘sustainability’ and ‘wellbeing’ from an interdisciplinary lens.
- Explore the psychology of sustainable consumption and human-material interactions, particularly the effects of ‘putting consumers at the heart of design’ and the space that needs to be prepared for the new waste-based materials.
- Develop multimodal sensing technology and machine learning technology to characterise textiles and related experiences, with a particular focus on their relevance to sustainability and wellbeing.
- Create digital experiences to unlock material circularity through new multisensory interaction techniques and immersive narratives.
- Create novel circular product designs through collaboration with SME fashion and technology partners, and consumers.
Professor Carey Jewitt
Professor of Technology and Learning at UCL Knowledge Lab and Chair of UCL Collaborative Social Science Domain
Professor Sharon Baurley
Professor of Design & Materials, and Director of the Materials Science Research Centre