Department of Design

FTF research projects

The Fashion/Textile Futures research group is involved in several significant research projects.
New Silk research project
NEWSILK project. Photo by Pirita Lauri.
t-rex logo



Aalto University is part of a consortium of 12 major players from across the entire recycling value chain that has launched an innovative European Union (EU) funded project to create a circular system for post-consumer textile waste.

The T-REX Project (Textile REcycling EXcellence) will work to create a harmonised EU blueprint for closed-loop sorting, and recycling of household textile waste. Transforming end-of-use textiles, from waste, into a desired feedstock, and a commodity for new business models that can be adopted at scale.

The project aims to contribute to understanding and identifying the infrastructure, technology and policy needed to encourage the growth of circular value chains in the textile industry. The partners will work towards developing a systematic approach to addressing the problem of textile waste, resource preservation and reduction of the environmental footprint of the fashion industry.

Aalto University takes on a partner role in the consortium and leads a work package called Citizen engagement, knowledge transfer, communication & dissemination In addition, Aalto is responsible for S-LCA (social life cycle assessment) of the chemical recycling processes to be demonstrated in the project. Finland’s sustainable textile know-how is well represented in the consortium since Infinited Fiber Company is also a partner. The entire consortium is coordinated by adidas.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme.

Visit the official T-REX website

Contacts: kirsi.niinimaki(at), kirsti.cura(at)

New Cotton Project

New Cotton


Aalto University is part of a consortium that harnesses collaboration and cutting-edge technology to create circular fashion. Twelve pioneering players in the fashion and textile industries are breaking new ground by demonstrating an entirely circular model for commercial garment production. This is a world first in the fashion industry. The consortium of brands, manufacturers, suppliers, innovators and research institutes participating in the European Union-funded New Cotton Project will prove that circular, sustainable fashion is not only an ambition, but can be achieved today. The project also aims to act as an inspiration and steppingstone for further, even bigger circular initiatives in the industry going forward. Kirsi Niinimäki leads the research group from Aalto ARTS.

The project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 101000559.

Visit the official New Cotton website

Contact: kirsi.niinimaki(at)

Sun-powered Textiles


Sun-powered Textiles is a multidisciplinary project which combines expertise in new energy technologies and fashion, clothing and textile design to a technically feasible and aesthetic concept for integrating solar cells with textiles. The aim is to investigate and develop a commercially feasible solar cell textile technology for the smart textile and IoT electronics industry.

The objectives of the project are to validate commercially available solar cell and textile materials, and electronics interface solutions proved in commercial-scale manufacturing of smart textile applications. During the project will be gained technical know-how and scientific understanding to support the utilization of the results in the textiles and electronics industry.

The project is a collaboration between the departments of Applied Physics and the Department of Design, and industry partners from the fields of high-performance textiles, professional clothing and wireless sensor device technologies. Business Finland funds this co-innovation research project.

Contact: elina.ilen(at) & elina.palovuori(at)

Hidden photovoltaics enables freedom to design e-textiles

The Sun-powered Textiles project explores a practical and scalable solar cell textile technology

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A close-up image of a woven textile structure to be used to cover the solar cell.
Finix project. Photo by Cvijeta Miljak.
Finix consortium at Aalto CHEM. Photo by Cvijeta Miljak.


Sustainable textile systems: Co-creating resource-wise business for Finland in global textile networks 


FINIX research consortium aims to rethink how we make, use and dispose of textiles. The consortium will investigate, catalyse and co-create a resource-wise textile paradigm characterized by the use of fibres from recycled textiles, agriwaste and wood; business models for long textile lifespans facilitated by design for multiple lifetimes and supportive services (e.g. for sharing, repairing, reverse logistics); and digital and other technologies (for traceability, recognition, sorting, consumer information) as well as governance innovations (e.g. proactive regulation and ecosystem governance models), all of which in combination enable a circular textile economy.

FINIX is led by  Professor Minna Halme and brings together a team of researchers from Aalto Schools of Business, Arts and Chemical Engineering; SYKE; VTT; Lappenranta University of Technology; and Lahti and Turku Universities of Applied Sciences. Partners from Heureka and Rhea Solutions will work with the researchers to communicate the findings to the public. Kirsi Niinimäki leads the research group from Aalto ARTS.

The project is funded by Academy of Finland's Strategic Research Council under Grant no 327299.

Visit the official FINIX website

Contact: kirsi.niinimaki(at)

Fibre made from recycled cloth towels and hemp stronger than cotton

The tensile strength of fibres created with the Ioncell method is up to 2.5 times more than that of cotton, while an Ioncell knitted fabric made from recycled hemp withstands abrasion for twice as long as normal hemp fabric.

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Ioncell-kuituja kierrätysmateriaalista

SUB researchers lead new sustainable textiles consortium

Researchers from the Sustainability in Business (SUB) research group are leading one of Aalto’s three consortia funded in the latest round of grants from the Academy of Finland’s Strategic Research Council.

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Rolls of fabric in warehouse
Layers of Blue designed by Anna van Der Lei & Anna-Mari Leppisaari. Photo: Eeva Suorlahti
'Layers of Blue' by Anna-Mari Leppisaari & Anna van der Lei. Photo by Eeva Suorlahti.


Bio-based Dyes and Pigments for Colour Palette


The aim of the BioColour project is to develop new methods of biocolourant production, characterization and application, which enable the buildup of novel processes leading to a variety of sustainable items. BioColour project also aspires to establish the cultural, social and ethical aspects associated with producing and consuming biocolourants and enhances wider adaption of sustainability in businesses and consumer lifestyles. BioColour project helps generating new high-class sustainable biocolour business and advancing existing business opportunities in Finland.

In Aalto ARTS, professors Julia Lohman and Kirsi Niinimäki are leading the research in BioColour. A critical design approach will be used in contemporary context and experimental design approach in industrial context. The critical design approach is used to raise debate about the current mass production of colourants.  Project will introduce new ways to use biocolours with novel aesthetic properties and a new kind of variety of colour shades. Furthermore, BioColour will use unusual materials such as mycelium and algae. Consumers attitudes towards such new materials will also be investigated. Colour is an important factor to take into account when aiming towards greater sustainability. Consumers’ opinions and ideas for futures aesthetics need to be considered and  develop interventions to change consumers’ taste towards greater responsibility in consumption.

The BioColour consortium is led by Docent Riikka Räisänen from the University of Helsinki. The project is  multidisciplinary representing scientists from the University of Helsinki, University of Eastern Finland, Aalto University, Häme University of Applied Sciences, Luke Natural Resources Institute Finland, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, North Carolina State University, USA and University of Campinas, Brazil. 

The project is funded by Academy of Finland's Strategic Research Council under Grant no 327330.

Visit the official BioColour website

Contact: julia.lohman(at) & kirsi.niinimaki(at)

Aalto University presents six concepts on renewable biomaterials at Dutch Design Week

CHEMARTS exhibition showcases fascinating recyclable prototypes which are toxic-free, recyclable and don't release micro-plastics.

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Shimmering Wood-based Structural Colour by Noora Yau. Photo Eeva Suorlahti
Photo: Pirita Lauri
NEWSILK project. Photo by Pirita Lauri.


The New Road to Silk: Bio-based production of silk like materials


Biotechnical production of silk and the engineering of material properties of silk offer large possibilities for industrial development. In the NEWSILK project, our aim is that silk-like materials, including spider web proteins and other related fibrous proteins, will form a basis for high performance materials in the future. The project addresses the challenge of how materials can be made in a sustainable way. 

The consortium combines three areas: Biotechnology (Aalto CHEM), Polymer Chemistry (Helsinki University) and Art & Design (Aalto ARTS). This combination of groups will develop and strengthen multi- and interdisciplinary research collaboration and lead to new ways of doing science. In the project, we integrate the experimental design process in research where biological production and polymer chemistry is used to create new materials that answer to tomorrow’s requirements for materials.

The project is funded by Academy of Finland, Biofuture programme 2017-2020.

Visit the official NEWSILK website

Contact: kirsi.niinimaki(at)

New Silk - What can we learn from spiders?

How to produce new types of silk-like materials in the context of synthetic biology

Visit our exhibition at HDW 2019!
New Silk research project
Design: Essi Karell Photo: Eeva Suorlahti
Crops4Luxury project. Design by Essi Karell, photo by Eeva Suorlahti.

Crops4Luxury (PeltoLuksus)


One fifth of the water pollution caused by global industry is due to the dyeing of textiles and the synthetic chemicals used in the process. Some regions of the world already have polluted groundwater because of the textile industry’s activities. 

The Crops4Luxury (PeltoLuksus) project studies special crops that could replace synthetic textile dyes sustainably and ethically. Blue is the rarest colour in nature, and in Finland, a crop called dyer’s woad (värimorsinko) yields a non-toxic blue dye. Already centuries ago before chemical colours were developed, dyer's woad was used in Europe for production of textile dyes. Today this ancient plant dye can be cultivated in large scale and used in industrial textile colouring processes.

The project is funded by The Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.

Contact: kirsi.niinimaki(at)

Redesigning Production Systems - New Luxury from Biodiversity

Final seminar of Crops4Luxury project, September 5, 2019

Final seminar 5.9.2019
PeltoLuksus projekti. Kuva Eeva Suorlahti.

Natural Indigo: New Luxury from Northern Fields

Crops4Luxury (PeltoLuksus) project studied special crops that could replace synthetic textile dyes sustainably and ethically

Visit our exhibition at HDW 2019!
Natural Indigo project, design by Arttu Åfield & Kirsi Niinimäki. Photo Eeva Suorlahti
RIB - Rhythms in Infant Brain 2
RIB project.

Rhythms in Infant Brain (RIB)

Wearables for computational diagnostics and mobile monitoring of treatment


This interdisciplinary project is a joint endeavour between Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Design; School of Electrical Engineering, Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics; University of Helsinki (UH) and University of Turku (UTU). In this project, we in Aalto ARTS will study infants and their caretakers in order to design functional and aesthetically pleasing, medically equipped textile wearables and clothing that can help detecting early symptoms of health issues in babies.

The RIB project is funded by the Academy of Finland, Health from Science (TERVA) Academy Programme that is aimed at encouraging researchers to seek bold, new research initiatives that can solve health issues related to major public health diseases.

Contact: kirsi.niinimaki(at) & elina.ilen(at)

Trash-2-Cash diagram
Trash-2-Cash project.

Trash-2-Cash (T2C)

Designed high-value products from zero-value waste textiles and fibres


Trash-2-Cash (T2C) is a multidisciplinary project which integrates design, business and technology to a coherent discipline to establish new creative industries. The aim is to develop new material and product opportunities via creative design from waste or process by-product, reduce the utilization of virgin materials; improve material efficiency; decrease landfill volumes and energy consumption and use design for recycling strategies with the vision of closing the material loop in the textile sector.

The project is a large European collaboration between different research units, universities and industrial partners around Europe. Aalto ARTS will contribute to the project by developing design methods for multidisciplinary collaboration, constructing principles for design for recycling strategy, studying consumer engagement for recycling, and investigating new value creation in a circular economy.

The project is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 646226.

Visit the official Trash-2-Cash website

Contact: kirsi.niinimaki(at)

Trash-2-Cash project present in H&M Global Change Awards

Trash-2-Cash (T2C) research project presented a garment made out of chemically recycled cotton in H&M Global Change Award Ceremony in Stockholm.

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Central Baltic Fashion Seed

Central Baltic Fashion Seed


Central Baltic Fashion Seed is a project initiated by Art Academy of Latvia in collaboration with Aalto University and Tallinn Incubator. It aims to explore the possibilities of sustainable fashion business in the Baltic Sea region, and prepare further project application(s) for EU funding programmes. The project is part-financed by the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region (EUSBSR) Seed Money Facility, and it runs
from April 2016 to March 2017.

DWoC - Photo by Eeva Suorlahti. Design by Marjaana Tanttu.
DWoC project. Design by Marjaana Tanttu. Photo by Eeva Suorlahti.

Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose (DWoC)


Design Driven Value Chains in the World of Cellulose(DWoC) is a multidisciplinary project focusing on cellulose materials and their novel applications by combining design, science and business. The DWoC concept is based on the combination of design thinking and design driven prototyping to a strong technology development competence.

DWoC aims to communicate actively the design concept to potential entrepreneurs and to facilitate the development of the new Finnish cellulose ecosystem. The first phase of the DWoC project (1.6.2013 – 31.3.2015) was successfully carried out and second phase started 1.4.2015 and will continue until 31.3.2018. The partners are the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT), Aalto University, Tampere University of Technology and University of Vaasa. DWoC is funded by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation.

The project was funded by Tekes (nowadays Business Finland).

For more information, visit Cellulose from Finland website.


2011 - ongoing

CHEMARTS is a long-term strategic collaboration between two Aalto University schools, The School of Chemical Technology (CHEM) and The School of Arts, Design and Architecture (ARTS). The schools merged their forces 2011 with the aim to invent new ways to harness wood and cellulose. The idea is to research the performance and design of advanced cellulosic materials for innovative uses. 

The main objective of CHEMARTS collaboration is to inspire students and researchers to explore biomaterials together and to create new concepts for the future use of cellulose and other biomaterials. CHEMARTS consists of various actions, such as multidisciplinary study courses, summer school and externally funded research projects.

For more information, visit the official CHEMARTS website.

Contact: pirjo.kaariainen(at)

Chemartsing with Bio-based Materials

CHEMARTS Summer School 2019 explored novel material solutions and their innovative applications

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CHEMARTS Summer school 2019



DigiPrintNetwork projektissa kootaan suomalaisista digitaalisen tulostuksen parissa toimivista pk-yrityksistä toimijaverkosto, joka suunnittelee ja toteuttaa yhdessä kustomoitavia tuote- ja palvelukonsepteja kuluttajamarkkinoille. Projektissa tehdään kuluttajatutkimusta verkostotutkimuksen kanssa rinnakkain. DigiPrintNetwork projektissa selvitetään, miten yritysverkosto ja kuluttajat jakavat tietoa keskenään. Tavoitteena on auttaa yrityksiä vastaamaan paremmin kuluttajien tarpeisiin. Hankkeen tavoitteena on ymmärtää verkkopohjaisen yhteistoimintamallin vaikutusta monipuolisen toimijaverkoston johtamiseen ja kehittämiseen. Hankkeessa tehtyjä tutkimuksia ja toiminnallisessa osiossa testattua toimijaverkostoon pohjautuvaa liiketoimintamallia voidaan hyödyntää eri alojen pk-yritysten toiminnassa. Projektin rahoittaa Tekes ja mukana olevat yritykset.

DigiPrintNetwork concentrates on network collaboration around digital textile printing.



DIGItex projektin tavoitteena oli tutkia ja kehittää digitaaliseen tekstiilitulostamiseen liittyviä tuote- ja palveluliiketoimintaratkaisuja tulevaisuuden kestävän kehityksen vaatimusten mukaisiksi. Projektin tavoitteena oli myös kehittää uudenlaisia digitaaliseen tekstiilitulostamiseen perustuvia tuotesuunnitteluratkaisuja. Yhteistyössä olivat mukana Printscorpio, VTT, TTY, TAMK ja Aalto. Projektin rahoitti Tekes ja Printscorpio.

In DIGItex project, new product-service-system concepts for digital textile printing were developed.

Contact: kirsi.niinimaki(at)

Baltic Fashion


The goal of Baltic Fashion project was to bring together a strong consortium of partners including regional authorities and business support agencies, fashion associations and educational facilities from countries in the Baltic Sea region (BSR). Baltic Fashion aimed to create an independent BSR wide network with the following goals:

  • Strengthen the international performance of the BSR fashion sector and its support structures through development of an information platform, cooperation meetings and joint analyses (statistical data, good support practices, sectoral activities and potential for cooperation) leading to common sets of actions.
  • Promote and transfer knowledge on innovations in the sector (new production methods and technologies, trends, materials), especially to eastern BSR countries and with a focus on sustainable development.
  • Further develop and realize existing business support activities and facilities (e.g. business training programmes, business clinics), create new spaces for industry cooperation and internationalization (e.g. business cooperation events), and facilitate the shift of fashion production back to the BSR.

Funding programme: Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013

Official website:

Fashion/Textile Futures

The Fashion/Textile Futures research group explores new perspectives on human-centered design research. The group approaches research in the field of fashion, clothing and textiles in multi-faceted ways.

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Sofia Ilmonen Biocolour
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