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ADF Selects: Materiality

ADF Selects: Materiality  A close up of materials in Matthew Needham's studio

A close up of materials in Matthew Needham's studio

17 February 2021

With February synonymous with fashion weeks around the world, we thought that materiality would make a nice theme for the latest instalment of ADF Selects to respond to, however literally or loosely! We've compiled something for everyone, from opportunities and talks to attend, books to read, films to watch, crafts to do and music to listen to. We hope you find some inspiration.  


I was interested to see the annual event for fabric & textiles, Premier Vision Paris, hosting a 100% digital edition this February. During the talks series, I enjoyed, How to create positive impact with natural materials with Céline Semaan-Vernon, System designer and co-founder of Slow Factory Foundation and Seetal Solanki, Materials Translator at Ma-tt-er. In discussion of regenerative materials such as algae being adopted by fashion designers, the panel explored how education can prepare designers to be better collaborators with different disciplines, such as science, geology and anthropology, as well as the need for education to take a 'material first approach' in order to create new alternatives. The talk series is still available to watch.

Hannah, Programme Manager

Inspired by materiality only insofar as it is an object, I've chosen the revolutionary Eye to Eye: Portraits of Lesbians by artist JEB (Joan E.Biren), which has been reprinted for the first time in forty years. Originally self-published by JEB, it's a personal, compassionate collection of couple portraits juxtaposed with writing from Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich to personal stories from those captured in the photographs. Reprinted in time for LGBT awareness month. You can take a look and perhaps pre-order through the link
Lucy, Marketing Manager

To coincide with the physical release of Postcapitalist Desire: The Final Lectures of Mark Fisher, the ICA invited five artists and musicians to respond to the themes and ideas of Fisher's work. Called For K-Punk, the responses manifest as a sprawling audiovisual piece that you can watch online; with subtitles throughout, it's as close to the feeling of walking through an exhibition I've had for months. With music by Arthur Russell and Suicide included alongside visuals that let you float outside of the walls you're within. Just wish I had a projector to properly immerse myself in the experience. It's available to watch here until the end of February. 
Lucy, Marketing Manager

As part of our Making Matters programme, we invited the 2019 cohorts to participate in recorded interviews which we then turned into a series of films that you can watch on our IGTV. Five conversations on materials and the role of circular design in a circular economy, the films give insight into the evolving practice and research of individuals across Sub-Saharan Africa. 


The Botanical Mind Online by Camden Arts Centre is the programme of podcasts, films, texts, images and audio, investigating the significance of the plant kingdom to human life. Like many, I've recently tried to spend as much time as I can walking around exploring the natural world around me, paying much more attention to the richness of textures, colours and smells of the trees and plants. This digital exhibition invites you to explore the precious balance between the human and natural world through objects and stories representing indigenous knowledge, cultural theory and philosophy.
Elena, Programme Coordinator 

Architect and inventor Neri Oxman, whose multidisciplinary practice operates at the intersection of biology, material science, engineering, and computer sciences, talks to Design Emergency's co-founder, Paola Antonelli, about the need to design new materials and processes that are built in partnership with nature and are attuned to nature's cycles of growth, decay and rebirth, available to watch/listen to on the Design Emergency IGTV
Sevra, Director 


Design Future Now is a great series from the AIGA out of the United States that focuses on how design is changing as a discipline and a profession and how designers can come together as a community to address these changes. Released every few weeks, there are some especially relevant episodes available to listen to, including the most recent ones with Ricky Altizer and Catherine Addo discussing impact and equality and Amanda Makulec discussing designing with data. 
Sevra, Director

Along with the rest of the world, London Fashion Week has gone digital this season. Check out the online schedule at Fashion Scout which includes a couple of The Nairobi x London Sessions as part of our Creative DNA programme discussing topics such as the role of design in social change and creativity during times of crisis. All events are scheduled across Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st of February. 

If you need some groovers to help you shake off the day, week, month, year - this hour-long playlist of Maghrebi sounds from the 1980s/90s is perfect. The music was digitised from cassette for us to enjoy as part of the Radio Discostan show on NTS.


With the lifecycle of materials in mind; Sewing Box for the Future was a participatory exhibition at V&A Dundee last year, which invited individuals to extend the lifetime of, and love for, their wardrobe. Split into 3 themes; Care, Repair and Customise, they shared some guiding principles which you can download as nifty recipe cards. From replacing a zip to creating an embellishment, you can even sew your own Mary Quant-style mini-dress through free and simple downloadable guides and patterns.
Güte, Programme Coordinator

It's exciting to hear news of the first ever exhibition at the V&A dedicated to fashion in Africa, following the appointment of a new curatorial role created specifically to cover the subject. We've been developing our fashion work in Africa steadily over the years, and it's fantastic to start seeing greater representation at such a revered institution.
At a time when we're all stuck at home staring at our screens, the V&A's recent call out for contributions from the public, who are being encouraged to 'check attics, trunks, family photo albums and home movies' is an enticing invitation to engage with objects in the real world. So get searching! And I look forward to seeing what makes the cut in the exhibition next year.
João, Senior Programme Manager