Zero Waste Systems Thinking: Multimorphic Textile-forms

Zero Waste System Thinking: Multimorphic Textile-Forms is situated in the context of the rapidly unfolding environmental crisis and the dominant response to this in the industry ­– the circular economy. Beginning by building on existing knowledge around sustainable fashion, textiles and design, and zero waste design practice, the research program is constructed from three interconnected theories: transition design; design and post-anthropocentrism; and design as future-making. It adopts a transition design “posture” of holistic zero waste system design to develop processes for garment design and manufacturing.

Zero Waste Systems Thinking: Multimorphic Textile-Forms explores the theoretical, aesthetic and technical development of systems and methods for zero waste textile-forms. It presents a range of experimental field tests, interviews and experiments using a variety of prototyping methods to deep­en understanding of the existing context and to propose methods and theory for a new understanding of the relationship between designer and system, textile and form. Outside of fully fashioned or 3D knitting, methods for simultaneous textile-form design and construction are limited. Conventionally, weaving is a two-dimensional practice – which through cutting and sewing may become form. Cut-and-sew is the most common method of garment construction used in industry; however, it is also exploitative, time-consuming and wasteful. The current shallow understanding of the relationship between woven textiles and form limits how designers could transform industries and the built environment. This research questions how technology can further shape form-making, and follows some of the lines of design inquiry forged by the work of Issey Miyake and Dai Fujiwara in A-POC, and recent explorations on digital whole garment weaving by Anna Piper, Jacqueline Lefferts, Linda Dekhla, and Claire Harvey and colleagues. This research undertook a series of experiments which aimed to expand the form-design methods available for whole garment weaving in the context of zero waste system design. This multimorphic and analogue-digital craft practice develops new understandings of textile design and manufacturing elements, such as jacquard looms and weave structures, for use in micro-manufacturing contexts. This holistic and disruptive reshaping of form-making has the potential to future-make the industry, our cities and our social fabric.


McQuillan, H. (2020) Zero Waste Systems Thinking: Multimorphic Textile-forms. PhD Thesis. Edited by L. Hallnäs. University of Borås.

McQuillan, H. (2020). Digital 3D design as a tool for augmenting zero-waste fashion design practice, International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 13:1, 89-100, DOI: 10.1080/17543266.2020.1737248

McQuillan, H. and Rissanen, T. (2020) ‘Mind-Body-Garment-Cloth’, in Townsend, K. and Solomon, R. (eds) Crafting Anatomies. London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 147–168.

McQuillan, H. (2019). Weaving Futures: Adopting alternative postures to develop new methods for the construction of textile-forms in the context of micro-manufacturing. Paper presented at Making Futures Conference, Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth, UK.

McQuillan, H. (2019) Zero Waste Design Thinking. Licentiate Thesis. Edited by L. Hallnäs. University of Borås.

McQuillan, H. (2019) ‘Waste, so what ? A reflection on waste and the role of designers in a circular economy.’, Nordic Design Research Journal. Espoo, Finland, 8(8), pp. 1–9. Available at:

McQuillan, H. (2019) ‘Hybrid zero waste design practices. Zero waste pattern cutting for composite garment weaving and its implications’, in Running With Scissors, European Academy of Design.

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