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Design for Life 

Design for Life: Schools 

Below you will find a case study outlining a recent Design for Life project at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery involving Textiles students at two local secondary schools. For information on how to run a similar project at your school, and other ideas about how to inspire design using museum collections, please follow the Run Your Own Project link to your left.

       Case Study

Brighton Museum & Art Gallery worked with Blatchington Mill and Dorothy Stringer schools to stage Trash Fashion, which saw young people in years 9 and 10 create sustainable fashion designs inspired by the museum’s Fashion & Style gallery.  The students worked closely with two fashion industry professionals to realise their ambitious designs, which were then showcased at a sell-out catwalk show at a professional theatre.                                                                   

  • Design Brief

Key Stage 3 and 4 Textiles students were asked to design clothes using recycled materials inspired by the Renegade case in our Fashion & Style gallery.       

  • Inspirations

The project focused on the Fashion & Style gallery on the first floor of the museum. Students were encouraged to engage specifically with our Renegade collection to design pieces inspired by various subcultures; namely Hippy, Skinhead, Goth, Punk, Mod and Rocker.

  • Designer Input

Students worked under guidance of local fashion designers Jemma Treweek and Theresa Parker. Both designers worked with museum staff to devise and deliver the content of the initial museum visit, and then attended between one and three further sessions at the schools themselves to give practical advice and support to participants.



  • Time frame

Each group was invited into the museum for a tailored half-day handling session on sub cultural dress, followed by an introduction to the brief and some interactive design learning activities.  Over a series of around fifteen focused workshops back in the classroom – some led by the designers themselves, and some by the teachers – students gained a more detailed understanding of the design process, and rose to the challenge of working to a focused brief using only discarded materials.

  • Methods & Materials

The brief for this project clearly stated that anything used in the production of the final garments should be waste material. As a consequence a huge range of resources were used – from security netting, carrier bags, odd socks, even paperclips! This meant that the young people involved had to be inventive and fluid when devising their production methods too, combining traditional techniques such as machine stitching and patchwork with more unusual construction methods such as knitted video tape and laminated leaf embellishments.

  • Outcomes

Each student created an outfit that was showcased at a sell-out catwalk show in a professional theatre in Brighton city centre. Highlights included a dress made entirely of crisp packets, a dress heavily embellished with paperclips, and a quirky raincoat comprised of stitched-together supermarket fruit bags. A selection of work was also displayed at the national Design for Life exhibition at the V&A.

The project encompassed a second strand, which saw young people work as ‘apprentices’ to local creative professionals – working on the make-up, hair, graphic design, live visuals, journalism and photography that were needed in order to stage the final events. This gave the schools involved a wonderful cross-curricular opportunity, and students from Business Studies, Media Studies, English and Hair & Beauty contributed their skills to make the event a success.                                                            


      ‘I found the designs amazing and I could not believe my eyes when I saw how old the girls were who had created them were!’ - Visitor Comment at DFL exhibition at V&A

      ‘The inclusion of a real practicing designer and the conclusion in a real Catwalk show give this experience a grounding in reality that really does inspire ideas about careers’ – Teacher

      ‘I have really thought about maybe going into a textiles career and so I am taking it as one of my options. It’s a really good creative project where you get to improve your creative and textile skills’ - Participant

      ‘I really enjoyed the project because I have learnt a lot about different sub cultures and talking with the designer was really insightful. I would definitely do this project again if given the opportunity.’ – Participant

      ‘I can now think through and alter and expand my ideas.’ - Participant

      ‘I would never think of visiting a museum before because I found them boring. Now I love museums because they hold such good inspiration for everything.’- Participant

      ‘I feel like if I actually put my mind to it I can achieve a high standard of work now because I managed to complete my design exactly as I pictured it.’ - Participant


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