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Sustainability with Print on Demand

During her 27-year career working in the textile industry, Design Pool founder Kristen Dettoni watched as the industry she worked in produced yards and yards of textile waste while creating large collections twice a year. The standard model was for a traditional mill to create hundreds of designs, each available in multiple color ways, to present to clients. Those clients only had availability to place 3% of those designs, leaving 97% of the designs shelved, never to be shown again. This hardly seemed like a sustainable process. Perfectly beautiful designs went unused and yards of fabric were simply thrown into a landfill.

Over the course of her career, Kristen witnessed the industry change dramatically. The industry that had launched the Industrial Revolution in the United States was struggling to survive. American mills could not keep up with our culture’s obsession with more and more stuff at lower and lower prices. Fast fashion had bled into the home furnishings arena, and it felt like our planet simply would not be able to handle the pressure that this trend had put upon it.

Over time, mills closed and local economies suffered. Kristen wondered where her place was in this changing industry. How could her work have less of a negative impact on the planet and contribute to a more sustainable textile industry?

As an avid “DIYer,” Kristen stumbled across companies Zazzle and Spoonflower. It was an eye-opening experience to see that she could create a custom design and print only as much as she needed. She began to wonder, couldn’t technology, which was reshaping other areas of the economy, build a sustainable future for textile designers too?

Design Pool was born out of this inspiration. Kristen wanted to create designs that would live in a design library, without the huge inventory of product that may never even be seen. By focusing on the idea of using existing designs to only make what is needed for a project, she was free to focus on creating a wide range of design options. She felt good knowing that what is being made from her designs is of better quality and will last longer.

Kristen sees a bright future for new manufacturing technology to lower the barriers to custom projects and open access to more markets. There is huge potential for print-on-demand companies such as LDI Interiors to work with interior designers. By connecting through a digital design resource such as Design Pool, they can find the perfect pattern for a project and produce only as much of a product as is needed for that particular project.

We’d love to know, do you think about sustainability in the textile industry? How important is sustainability to you and your design choices?

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Kristin Crane

Kristin Crane has designed jacquard designs for the home furnishing and residential jobber market for many years, with mills in the US and in China. Today, she writes about pattern and design trends for Design Pool from her home in Providence, Rhode Island. When not writing about fabric, she can be found weaving in her home studio or hiking along the Rhode Island coast.


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