Business Excellence Awards
Please Join PBN to Celebrate the 2014 Business Excellence Award Winners on Novem ...
Karl Aspelund, assistant professor of design at the University of Rhode Island, was recently awarded a $15,000 grant from URI’s Council for Research to begin background research for a project on space apparel – namely how space communities will recycle and use clothing. His interest in the subject was sparked following a National Public Radio report about the 100 Year Starship Initiative, a program aimed at inspiring space travel by 2112.
Previously, Aspelund worked in nationally acclaimed sculptor Brower Hatcher’s studio. He holds a Ph.D. in anthropology and material culture from Boston University and is the author of two books, “Fashioning Society’’ and “The Design Process.’’
PBN: Last year, you were asked to speak at the 100 Year Starship Symposium in Houston. What did you talk about?
ASPELUND: Manned spaceflight on this scale opens up a whole new discussion in terms of design and clothing in particular. You are not just sending humans into space; you are sending a human community. What I brought to them in Houston was a mixture of ideas. I used two seemingly mundane problems to focus the discussion: laundry and recycling. We must consider production, materials and construction, but there are also … cultural, practical and ecological issues that appear [when] you increase the scale of time and distance.
PBN: Why would 3-D printing be useful for creating space clothing?
ASPELUND: Current 3-D printing processes are rather basic and not able to create actual day-to-day clothing. What is possible now is more sculptural mesh than textile. In principle, however, I think it is one of the solutions that should be front and center in our investigations. … It’s only a matter of time before the materials begin to approach what we are used to wearing. If it could be made to work, it should hit all the necessary bases: efficient, compact, adaptable, not reliant on agriculture, and highly recyclable.
PBN: Do you foresee your space designs having an impact on clothing here on Earth?
ASPELUND: The ecological question on its own has the potential to be transformative on Earth, by decreasing the enormous ecological impact of the textile industry. If all goes well, I am certain what this all leads to will find its way into the daily lives of humans on Earth. •