Interior Environmental Design

Melanie Chiswell

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Ethica- Thread is an adaptive reuse design spotlighting burgeoning ethical clothing brand ‘Mara’ and shifting thinking and behaviours about fast fashion. The design responds to unethical practices in the trillion-dollar global fast fashion industry, where cheaply produced garments are rushed from catwalk to store to rally new trends through excessive consumption. The site is The Garment Factory on Montrose Street in Glasgow’s Merchant City. Ethica-Thread is a cutting edge and immersive design filling the entire space of the building and incorporating the use of sustainable materials and ethical practice. Mara’s brand identity cascades through all five levels. The user is presented with a captivating range of experiences over five floors. Ethica- Thread is fully accessible and inclusive. Movement is facilitated by the statement staircase and lifts to each level. The space is contemporary and multi- sensory, comprising a retail shop, a café, dye and screen- printing workshops, a studio for creatives, a sensory learning space and an events space. Off cut and pattern process influences Ethica- Thread’s design form and development. The Factory’s baronial architecture and sandstone elements inspires visual and tactile experimentation using rich copper cladding, concrete aggregate and organic fabrics.

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At reception the user is immediately introduced to high quality fabrics which they have the opportunity to purchase, and they can learn that part of the profits goes towards an international charity for garment workers.
It is easier to imagine the world as a better place in the café, which is a visually stunning, warm and contemporary space. The entire height and impact of the building is seen from the retail space, with views through all levels. The MARA collection is for sale and is displayed on hemp plinths, rustic copper rails and cut in high arched shelves space.
On level one, the user can get hands on with the selection of dyes and a choice of organic fabrics. The space is light filled and contemporary which makes the user experience relaxing and interesting, assisted by technicians.
The user proceeds to level two with the dry dyed fabric with a sense of momentum, for the screen printing process. The user has the satisfaction of creating a unique piece using sustainable and organic materials, and will have gained an understanding of the garment production process.
Every level in the building is closely connected in design and ambience, in contrast with the purpose of each level.
The user can make an appointment with a creative on the third floor, learning more about the industry and designer process. Shades of orange coloured aggregate are prominent on this floor, channelling creativity and energy. Floor use is divided by contemporary partitions influenced by the baronial style for a full range of work and relaxation options.
The fourth floor is visually stimulating with a striking orange dye spread pattern worked into the concrete aggregate floor. Multi-sensory experiences are offered as ways of learning about the MARA process in contrast to fast fashion unsustainability. Hemp information plinths, hanging acrylic circles with LED strip lighting, and a projector room screening industry features completes the space.
The top level is cathedral like and double height, with a glass roof flooding the space with light and energy. Fashion shows can be hosted on the catwalk cleverly etched onto the floor in meandering waves between the full height copper clad pillars. The space can be dressed using high tech events lighting day or night for a multitude of different kinds of events.
‘Ethica-Thread’ connects the whole building in ethics and design.

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