This year’s James Dyson Award has been awarded to an Imperial design-engineering student, Ryan Yasin, who is the first to design a collection of origami-inspired garments that fit growing kids.

The Dyson Award is an annual international design competition, running in 23 countries. It is geared towards engineering, industrial design and product design university students, as well as former students who have graduated in the past 4 years. The award – £2,000 for the national competition, and £30,000 for the international – is given to the most innovative and sustainable design projects.

During his aeronautical engineering studies at university, Ryan spent most of his time focusing on transferable nanosatellites. Aiming to find out the total volume that can fit into 2mm of space, Ryan’s research relied heavily upon the use of auxetic materials. These structures have a negative value for Poisson’s ratio; if stretched, they react to enlarge their volume perpendicular to the exerted force. This occurs as a result of the modification of their inner structure when unilaterally burdened. As such, the structure is able to expand into two separate directions (that is to say, it does not get narrower) when stretched. This exciting feature gives the material resistance to high quantities of energy.

Using his scientific background, as well as inspiration taken from Issey Miyake’s origami collection, he began to create his own collection of children’s clothing that was environmentally sustainable: Petit Pli

But what is the link between auxetic materials and designing clothes? The association was first made when Ryan noticed how much clothing (and money) is wasted upon young children, after observing the rapid growth of his baby niece in her first year. Using his scientific background, as well as inspiration taken from Issey Miyake’s origami collection, he began to create his own collection of children’s clothing that was environmentally sustainable: Petit Pli.

Pleating was the solution that Ryan had been looking for. His origami-inspired designs were able to save large quantities of materials from being wasted, as well as thousands of pounds a year (this becomes easier to visualize when you consider that children between the ages of 4 to 36 months will grow by 7 sizes!). The only problem associated with the use of auxetic textiles has been proving their ergonomic value during the extension phases; however, more than 500 prototypes are currently being tested (in addition to Ryan’s niece and nephew, of course).

The Petit Pli collection is environmentally friendly in more ways than one; composed of a long lasting, recyclable lightweight weave, the garments are both wind and waterproof, easily machine-washable, and are pocketsize when folded. The material’s ability to expand can be fixed by heating, as simply as by putting it in a washing machine.

Petit Pli is an excellent weapon for the unsustainable world of fashion, with benefits that will become clear upon its usage

Ryan commented on his win, stating: “The prize money is an added bonus, but I know how I will use it. In addition to supporting my R&D, it will help me form an interdisciplinary team of experts to take Petit Pli to the next level: putting it in the hands of parents worldwide and making a tangible difference to the way we consume resources in the fashion industry.”

Petit Pli is an excellent weapon for the unsustainable world of fashion, with benefits that will become clear upon its usage. Whilst there is still research that needs to be done, hopefully the prize money will aid the winner in achieving his dream of tackling the overproduction and waste produced by the fashion sector. Perhaps one day, it won’t just be children wearing Petit Pli – it could be us all.

 


Image: Petit Pli

Caterina is a second year Journalism and Communications student at Cardiff University. In order to pursue her passion for writing, she left Italy and moved to Wales. Her interests and hobbies consist of writing, reading, cooking and boxing. Her favourite journalist is Beppe Severgnini. Caterina has a keen curiosity for science and everything linked to the environment, France, and food; she is always searching for new recipes or ingredients to try. She hopes to pursue a career in environmental journalism.

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