Otago Polytechnic

Stella Lange would like to see people develop a more respectful and long-standing relationship with our belongings.

We live in a throwaway society, where goods are cheap and readily available, and as a result our material culture has lost a sense of connection with our belongings. For our grandparents repair might have been normal, but these days replacement is easier. However these attitudes are slowly changing as we become more aware of the resources used in manufacturing goods and the problems caused by the volume of our waste.

Stella Lange, a Principal Lecturer in our School of Design, has been researching our relationship with garments. One subject of her research is the investigation of historical and contemporary craft practices of textile design, care and repair. Repair is often missing from the R’s of sustainable practice (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle …). Stella applies historical practices of production and use to contemporary materials and processes, and encourages others to acquire the advanced knowledge and skills to extend the life of garments through effective repair. The social meaning of repair has shifted significantly over past decades, and now often signals an activist voice.

Handcraft also subverts the dominant consumer consumption models which globalise and commoditise production. Craftivism embraces technical mastery, developing hand work skills, and using those to create an intimate relationship with garments or other personal possessions. Stella's work informs her contemporary design practice. She blogs (articles and videos) about improved hand-knitting techniques and design patterns for hand-knitted items. Her designs are available online to an international craft community at Ravelry.com, and her blog has received over half a million views since 2006, with an average of 5,500 visits per month.

SUSTAINABILITY & TRANSFORMATION

October 2019