Award-winning design and its makers: the T-shirt “Graphi-Tee”

In February, 39 experts from all over the world convened in Essen to assess thousands of objects for the Red Dot Award: Product Design 2017 in a process spanning several days. Only designs that won over the jury with their high design quality were awarded the sought-after distinction “Red Dot”, and the best of them received the highest award “Red Dot: Best of the Best” – among them: the T-shirt “Graphi-Tee”, designed by WRAD.

New Cycles
Sustainability is a topic of high importance in the textile industry since it constantly produces many harmful substances worldwide. In search of an exemplary circular production process for the Graphi-Tee t-shirt, the design was inspired by a traditional technique. The idea to dye fabrics with graphite goes back to a process already common in ancient Roman times and from the 15th to the 19th century in southern Italy. However, the graphite powder used for the Graphi-Tee (up to ten grams per t-shirt) is a waste product from today’s technology industry. It is recovered for processing, creating a closed and sustainable cycle. The special processing lends the textile expressive aesthetics and a highly pleasant feel. Since graphite is also a lubricant, the bio-cotton jersey of the Graphi-Tee is very soft and smoothly fits to the body.

Consistent with the pursuit of sustainable processes in the fashion industry, the Graphi-Tees are made with a GOTS-certified (Global Organic Textile Standard) organic cotton in Italy. Furthermore, a cutting technique that reduces fabric waste is used. The usage of non-toxic graphite powder presents a meaningful alternative to the use of harmful chemical substances in the fashion industry. With its pioneering design, the Graphi-Tee inspires people to think – and the wearer of this stylish piece of clothing becomes an ambassador for more sustainability.

Red Dot: Best of the Best for Graphi-Tee
The Red Dot jury stated: „With its distinctive processing, the Graphi-Tee stands as an example of a way of thinking that looks beyond the field of the textile industry, since this beautiful fashion product emphatically draws attention to the necessity of sustainable processes. The graphite material lends it its very unique character and a fascinatingly sensuous feel. This T-shirt demonstrates that design points with new ideas at ways into the future.” The jury awarded the Red Dot: Best of the Best for this outstanding design achievement. Red Dot spoke with the designers Victor Santiago, Silvia Giovanardi and Matteo Ward. 

Red Dot: What was your goal when you designed Graphi-Tee?
Santiago, Giovanardi, Ward: The first goal of our movement and brand was to inspire people to express intangible values in tangible ways and to raise awareness about the true cost of the fashion system, one of the most polluting industries worldwide.

How do you define design quality?
Our era is characterised by a structural redefinition of what we have always taken for granted regarding the creation of products. We live in a time marked by three macro-revolutions in action: a spiritual one, a social one and an ecological one. In this scenario of crisis, we believe design quality must also be inclusive. Because by allowing the market to participate in the making of a product, consumers become active players invested in the realisation of the brand’s higher purpose.

» Further information on the Red Dot Award: Product Design