Hogeschool van Amsterdam

We meet: Irene Maldini (interview)

By: Christine van Spankeren, Press Pool CREATE-IT

17 jun 2015 16:36 | Kenniscentrum Digitale Media en Creatieve Industrie (CREATE-IT)

Wie zijn de gezichten achter de lectoraten? Deze maand nemen we een kijkje in het leven van onderzoeker Irene Maldini van het lectoraat Fashion Research & Technology. In februari 2015 gestart en afkomstig uit Uruguay, praten we met haar of mode, plannen en improvisatie. (Engelstalig interview)

Function Irene Maldini

Researcher with the focus on the involvement of users in fashion design and its implications for the sustainability of clothing.

“I don’t like to have everything planned in my life, there has to be place for improvisation.”

Irene Maldini in a nutshell

‘I come from Uruguay and I studied Industrial Design there. After finishing my studies, I worked in a couple of design offices and Universities in Uruguay and the south of Brazil. I always had the interest to develop my knowledge and skills to approach design from a more theoretical perspective, so that is why I came to the Netherlands, to do the master Design Cultures at the VU in Amsterdam. At the Master I discovered how exciting it is to do research and since then I have been focusing in academia, that is how I ended up applying for this position at the Lectoraat. Besides my work as researcher, I am also a PhD candidate in collaboration with the VU. I feel very comfortable here at the lab and I am very excited to participate in this group that is growing so fast.

I do not have a lot of free time because besides my research at the HvA I have other small work-related activities. I still work for the University in Uruguay, I do some freelance design work and I volunteer for the Foundation Creative City Lab in Amsterdam. Fortunately, there is still some free time in which I follow a Dutch language course, swim regularly and spend time with my partner and friends.’

Fashion research

My background is actually in industrial design, so I see clothing as objects. However, I see clothing as objects with a very special meaning, because they are the closest to our body. Objects play a very important role in our world, socially, economically and environmentally. Design is the discipline that shapes them. An example of the best thing about fashion research is to go beyond the discovery of the next hype to understand how hypes are socially constructed and the way we transform our surroundings.


Currently, I am doing research for the HvA about the participation of the user in design and manufacturing of clothing and its impact for sustainability, I think the project I am most proud of was a project I did eight years ago in Uruguay with four other designers. We designed a furniture set that people could produce themselves. We designed the way of construction, we selected some easy to get materials and designed manuals. We published them online using an open source format, so nobody had to pay to use this knowledge. It could be used for different objectives: in case of a disaster or to give more durable and cheap furniture for people with less money.

The future

In the future I would like to continue working as both design researcher and designer. It is not always easy, because they require different skills. Although, I think they complement each other very well. However, I would not like to follow the way of life that is planned for me, I would move to something else when things change. I would like to give space for improvisation, everything is possible. I may go back to Uruguay one day, or stay here, maybe I will end up living in Thailand, who knows.