Kenniscentrum faculteit Digitale Media & Creatieve Industrie

mw.  Dr. I. Maldini (Irene)

Benno Premselahuis, Rhijnspoorplein 1, 1091 GC Amsterdam
Postbus 2180,1000 CD Amsterdam
Design for sustainability
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Irene Maldini, PhD. is researcher at the research group Fashion & Technology, Center for Applied Research Create-IT at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.


Her research focuses on the quantity of clothing produced and consumed, its growth, and the environmental challenges associated with it. Moreover, it analyses the effect of design strategies aimed at reducing the “clothing mountain”, with emphasis on personalized products and do-it-yourself activities. So far, this research has indicated that these strategies do not have the desired effect. Contrary to what is expected, they do not help in reducing demand, partly because people’s clothing consumption habits follow a different logic to what designers and design researchers tend to assume. Therefore, the study offers an alternative perspective on clothing consumption building on the systemic nature of the wardrobe. This perspective explains that clothing demand rarely follows a logic of replacement: we do not usually buy new garments to replace discarded ones. The dynamics of the wardrobe are far more complex than that. Therefore, producing more meaningful or durable clothes tends to increase, rather than decrease, the size of the clothing mountain.


Having worked as an industrial designer independently and for different industries after her graduation, Irene started questioning the environmental effects of her own design practice. The search for answers to these questions led her to slowly shift her professional activities to design education and academic research. Since 2010 and through her research, she’s been trying to find ways for design knowledge to help confronting consumerism, this research is still ongoing.

Current teaching activities

Examiner of master theses at Master Fashion Enterprise Creation (MFEC, AMFI). Coach for Fashion Management graduation projects at Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI). Supervisor pre-master and master theses at MA Design Cultures (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam).


Irene graduated in 2001 as a Product Designer at the EUCD/UdelaR (Uruguay) and in 2012 at the MA Design Cultures (cum laude) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. In November 2019, she successfully defended her multidisciplinary PhD thesis entitled: “Can design confront consumerism? A critical study of clothing volumes, personalization, and the wardrobe” under supervision of Prof. Hein Daanen (VU Amsterdam), Prof. Pieter Jan Stappers (TU Delft), and Dr. Javier Gimeno-Martinez (VU Amsterdam).

Previous activities

In 2012/2013 Irene was an Embedded Researcher for Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam at Waag Society, where she conducted an ethnography of digital makers at the FabLab Amsterdam and reflected on the environmental implications of digital DIY. Before moving to the Netherlands, Irene was Assistant Professor at the EUCD/UdelaR in Uruguay, where she guided a teaching team responsible for the design projects of bachelor students in the last year of their studies. She also worked as a product designer for 15 years, in design studios like TOC and Design Inverso (in Uruguay and Brazil) and developing her own (conceptual) design projects.

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