Throughout 2013 and 2014, Antiform has been working with Sheffield Hallam University on an exciting research project, Create Connect Sustain.
The project is part of a research strand called Connected Communities, which is funded by AHRC and aims to provide a platform for universities to complete research alongside community based organisations. Antiform was chosen with Makerhood, a London based enterprise supporting local makers, to work on a project about making and sustainability with the team of researchers at Sheffield Hallam. The project aimed to build a network of similar community focused enterprises who focus on making and remaking and look at how these enterprises can best understand the impact their work is having.
Some of the inspiring projects we worked with on include;Makerhood (Lambeth, London): a volunteer-led social enterprise in South London that supports local makers’ businesses, and connects them with each other, with the local community, and with local businesses. It aims to encourage a locally oriented, sustainable, creative and socially-meaningful economy. Remakery (Loughborough Junction, South London): A new space for making things from waste materials soon to be open to local residents,makers, artists and businesses – aiming to reduce waste and support our local community by sharing skills and sparking ideas. The space is based on a “remade” old garage facility underneath an estate which went unused for many years. Building Bloqs (Edmonton, North London): an award winning Makerspace that caters for a collaborative community of artists, makers and designers who come together under one roof to share tools, knowledge and opportunities. Rekindle (Christchurch and Auckland, New Zealand): a social enterprise that enables diversion of reusable resources from waste via creativity and craftsmanship. It initially focused on diverting timber from waste within residential demolition in Christchurch, turning this into furniture, interiors, sculpture and jewelery. It is now working to expand the model beyond timber into other materials. Riversmeet: a cooperative of local people working to secure the future environment, social and economic well-being of the community. It has an Upcycling design and reuse strand that runs a wide variety of activities to help people develop skills to design and make beautiful, one-off objects from used materials.
For the first time the project brought together organisations who focus on community based making through a series of workshops which offered time to make new connections and collectively reflect on our work.
Part of the research involved understanding whether Antiform and its related projects do have the positive impact we hope for. We aim through Antiform to create clothing that connects with people and that is cherished by its owners, contributing to more sustainable fashion practices. Through Leeds Community Clothes Exchange, a project ignited by Antiform in 2008, we aim to encourage people to reduce textiles waste and reduce the consumption of new clothing by providing a platform for swapping.
Working with researcher Katie Hill, a long standing friend of Antiform, we ran an online feedback campaign through our website and an interactive feedback activity at the January 2014 Clothes Exchange to find out first hand from our customers about why they choose to buy from us or attend our events. All these opinions were analysed alongside other data collected through the project to understand better the impact Antiform is having on its surrounding community.
The data about Antiform focuses on positive re-engagement in fashion and supporting creative mindsets, suggesting we’ve enabled sustainable practices to become embedded in a wider range of consumers’ lives. A key insight for Antiform is how many people seem to value the experience as well as the product/service.
Being part of the research project has been a valuable opportunity to reflect on our journey so far and think about the values that drive our work. Often we are so busy with the day to day we loose sight of the bigger picture – this project gave us invaluable time to reflect. Sharing our experience with the other organisations involved in the project has helped to begin to form a network in this grassroots sector which sits on the boundary of community development and creative industries.
For more information on the project please visit createconnectsustain.wordpress.com
The final report is available to read here.