Miriam’s research innovates design methodology for transdisciplinary material design approaches that integrate methods from materials science and biotechnology in order to nurture new socio-ecological systems.
Miriam is Research Fellow in Materials Circularity of the Materials Science Research Centre (MSRC) and leads the Materials Circularity research strand of the Textiles Circularity Centre (TCC). She is Co-investigator in TCC, and BBSRC and BBNet projects. Previously she was the theme lead in Sustainable Future Materials of the Burberry Materials Futures Research Group, the first lab of the Materials Science Research Centre (2018-2020). Miriam holds a PhD from the University of the Arts London (Centre for Circular Design) with the London Doctoral Design Centre, an MA in Material Futures (Central Saint Martins) and a BA in Textile Design.
Miriam’s research innovates the materials, mechanisms and processes that nurture actions and characteristics to transform interconnected social and ecological systems, and determines new methods for research in materials and design. Innovation in design methodology enables a whole systems perspective of materials for the correlation and integration of lifecycle stages in the context of a circular and regenerative bioeconomy.
Miriam’s research is practice-based and process-driven for the development of a transdisciplinary practice that integrates methods from design, materials science and biotechnology for materials, thus enabling a STEAM approach for materials and design. Her research has innovated models for materials fabrication, regeneration and transparency, in interdisciplinary and collaborative research.
- Co-Investigator (2021–2024) Textiles Circularity Centre. UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) (£5,436,699) with University of Leeds, University of York, Cranfield University, University of Manchester, University of Cambridge and University College London.
- Co-Investigator (2020–2022) Bio-Manufacturing Textiles from Waste. BBSRC Super Follow-on project (£776,472) with University of York and University of Leeds
- Co-Investigator (2020–2021) Novel High-Performance Textile Composites. Biomass and Biorefinery Network (BBNet) Proof of Concept fund (£49,744).
- Co-Investigator (2019–2020) A Brazil-UK Network for Natural Polymers derived from Local Food Industry By-products. British Academy Global Challenges Research Fund (£23,000).
- (2015–2018) London Doctoral Design Centre (LDoc), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) at the University of the Arts London: PhD grant.
- (2018) London Doctoral Design Centre (LDoc): Student Development Fund: Design residency at Aalto University’s School of Chemical Engineering.
- (2017) London Doctoral Design Centre (LDoc): Student Development Fund: Design residency at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.
- (2016) London Doctoral Design Centre (LDoc): Student Development Fund: Design residency at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.
- (2016) London Doctoral Design Centre (LDoc): Cohort Development Fund: ‘Beyond Design: Cross-disciplinary Collaboration’ conference, 8 June 2017, University of the Arts London and Royal College of Art.
- (2014) European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST): Funding award towards leading a design-science project in ‘Design Possibilities for Regenerated Cellulose Materials’.
Current and recent projects
Bio-Manufacturing Textiles from Waste (2020-2022)
This research explores the potential of using cellulose from agricultural by-products and the biological fraction of municipal solid waste as a replacement to cellulose that is currently derived from trees for semi-synthetic textile fibres such as viscose and lyocell. The work involves maximising the productivity of biotechnological systems for producing cellulose, trialling the production of viscose-like regenerated fibres from our cellulose, and producing and testing textiles made from these fibres. The project is led by the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products at the University of York, which will convert wastes into sugars for bacterial fermentation into cellulose. The University of Leeds will lead to the trials of regenerated cellulose fibre production in sustainable and non-toxic regeneration technologies. Once these fibres are produced, they will be introduced into a range of textile fabrication processes in the Sustainable Future Materials theme of the Materials Science Research Centre. The proposed work will aim to increase process efficiency and to generate data to carry out a techno-economic analysis to assess the commercial viability of this novel process for textile manufacturing. MSRC Visiting Professor Phil Purnell will assess the environmental impacts of making textiles in this way using a life cycle analysis.
Novel High-Performance Textile Composites (2020–2021)
The Burberry Material Futures Research Group (BMFRG) is co-investigator on a project led by Professor Simon McQueen-Mason at the University of York that has been awarded a Proof of Concept fund (PoC) by the Biomass and Biorefinery Network (BBNet). The BBNet is a phase II Network in Industrial Biotechnology and Bioenergy (NIBB) funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). The research will explore how the extraction of hemicellulose from wheat straw for fermentation can be used for the direct synthesis of durable materials for textiles. The project will investigate the use of lignin, an underutilised component of wheat straw, to modify bacterial cellulose for the production of novel high-performance composites in textile applications. The research forms part of the Sustainable Future Materials theme to design and develop textiles from crop residues and biowaste.
A Brazil-UK Network for Natural Polymers derived from Local Food Industry By-products (2019-2020)
The Brazil-UK Network connects an interdisciplinary group of researchers from materials science, human behaviour, design, manufacturing models and service industry (chefs) looking at the possibility to replace petroleum-based and virgin resources from agriculture with by-products of the food industry from specific geographical locations. Based on the ‘locally productive and globally connected’ principle of the Fab City, the project seeks to map locally available bio-based materials in Brazil and the UK that demonstrate potential for a circular economy of resources and for new processing technologies that can transform these resources into new materials for multiple applications, from textiles, medical and apparel products. The RCA and USP (Universidade de São Paulo) are the lead applicants for this proposal funded by the British Academy Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), together with seven other Brazilian intuitions involved as core partners and collaborators: amongst them is included the São Paulo State Secretary for Inclusion and Social Development, Centro Universitário Belas Artes de São Paulo and Instituto Pesquisas Tecnológicas do Estado de São Paulo.
Funding award from the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST) to lead an international design-science collaboration with RISE Research Institutes of Sweden and Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. The ‘Design Possibilities for Regenerated Cellulose Materials' project aimed to find new applications and processes for closed loop chemically recycled textiles. The project was structured around a design residency in the organic chemistry laboratory for the identification, chemical recycling and spinning of waste textiles into new regenerated fibres. The result of the project is DeNAture, the first in-fibre material coding system to track and trace regenerated cellulose fibres in the circular economy. The outcomes were presented in materials science and design research conferences, industry events, international exhibitions and project reports for COST and MISTRA Future Fashion.
MISTRA Future Fashion (2011–2015)
During the first phase of the MISTRA Future Fashion consortium (2011-2015) consisting of eight project partners between Sweden, Denmark and the UK, I worked in the design thinking project at the Centre for Circular Design (CCD, University of the Arts London). The project’s deliverables included a training program for over 200 designers at H&M, the online open innovation platform Textiletoolbox, a state of the art report of sustainable design strategies for Swedish fashion, an exhibition and a final report. The action research approach was complemented with research into Swedish sustainable fashion, case studies for the TED’s TEN strategies for sustainable design and the design of workshop tools for the training program at H&M, Konstfack University and project partner workshops. The project’s completion included the curation of the Textile Toolbox exhibition and the co-authored final project report.
Recipes for Material Activism (2013)
‘Recipes for Material Activism’ is the first open source publication for making bioplastics using locally available non-toxic ingredients. The publication presents models of collaborative production towards a distributed manufacture of textiles, packaging, products and temporary spatial installations using low tech tools in a ‘kitchen lab’. The four recipes demonstrate possibilities to produce twenty known processes in an alternative way with the potential to replace toxic petroleum-based materials in design prototyping. The publication has inspired a new generation of material designers worldwide to participate in the democratisation of material production by developing their own recipes for biomaterials.
Publications, exhibitions, other outcomes
Ribul, M. (2021) ‘Regenerative Textiles: A Framework for Future Materials Circularity in the Textile Value Chain’, Sustainability, 13 (24), 13910.
Ribul, M.*, Lanot, A.*, Tommencioni Pisapia, C., Purnell, P.; McQueen-Mason, S. J., Baurley, S. (2021) ‘Mechanical, chemical, biological: Moving towards closed-loop bio-based recycling in a circular economy of sustainable textiles,’ Journal of Cleaner Production 326, 129325.
Ribul, M., Goldsworthy, K. and Collet, C. (2021) ‘Material-Driven Textile Design (MDTD): A Methodology for Designing Circular Material-Driven Fabrication and Finishing Processes in the Materials Science Laboratory,’ Sustainability 13 (3), 1268.
Costa, S. A., Ribul, M., Baurley, S., Costa, S. (2020) ‘Agro-industrial waste: Raw material for textiles,’ proceedings for Sustexmoda EACH-USP, Congresso Internacional de Sustentabilidade em Textile e Moda, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 4-9 Nov.
- Collaboration with the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP), Department of Biology, University of York
- Member of the Biomass and Biorefinery Network (BBNet) funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)