Why did you choose the Hochschule Niederrhein?
I’m actually from Rheda-Wiedenbrück, near Bielefeld. I grew up in a tailoring family and always wanted to do something with textiles. After finishing high school, I did an internship at a textile company to get to know the industry. There, I was made aware of the Hochschule Niederrhein by employees of the company and former students. I was very interested in the technical orientation of the Textile Design course in Mönchengladbach. I finally graduated with two bachelors. At first, I studied textile and clothing technology, but then I realized that I was missing the creative aspect and the practical work. That’s why I also completed the bachelor’s degree in Design Engineering.
What is the subject of your master’s thesis?
In my master thesis I investigate how the raw material of airbags can be recycled in other textile areas, such as clothing, furniture and accessories. I process waste or rejected material made available to me by airbag manufacturers, that is interesting because of its material properties, such as water resistance or a special texture. I regret that there is so much waste in these productions and I process the leftovers into different products, such as a stool or rainwear.
How did you come up with this topic?
During my master’s I already dealt with the industrial recycling of waste material. I did a project with Atelier Gardeur in Mönchengladbach: they provided jeans with holes or colour deviations that they could not sell. I then processed these trousers into xxxx(?). In another project, I processed packaging film into lace that could be sewn. For my master’s thesis, I then looked at the areas in the textile industry where there is a particularly large amount of waste and came across safety textiles.
What do you want to achieve with your master’s thesis?
With my work I would like to show that not everything is waste that cannot be processed further at first glance. Preferably, I would like to organize competitions and exhibitions. It would be nice if larger companies and small studios could work together to achieve meaningful and creative processing of waste materials and thus increase sustainability within the industry. In any case, it has high potential.
Apparently, you have already been able to get in touch with textile companies during your studies. Is the Hochschule Niederrhein a door opener?
In my experience, doors will open wide when you say that you are studying at department 7 of the Hochschule Niederrhein. There is always someone at the textile companies who has studied there themselves. Even during my internship in Istanbul, many of the managers knew the Textile and Clothing Technology department in Mönchengladbach. Foreign companies know that it is a very good education. In the past, I always thought it would be more fun to study in Hamburg or Berlin, but in my experience, the Hochschule Niederrhein looks good on your resume.
What did you experience during your internship in Turkey?
My internship in Istanbul was a very positive experience. I did an internship at a company that produces T-shirts from jersey for various companies such as H&M, Zara, Versace and Armani. The working conditions there were very good: there was climate control, lunch was served daily and there were several tea breaks. Chemical work processes took place in shielded cabins with protective clothing. It is good to see with your own eyes that not every textile production is automatically poor, but that there are also companies with excellent working conditions. Unfortunately, many textiles are still produced under inhuman conditions.
How do you experience the city of Mönchengladbach and its region?
I had no connection with Mönchengladbach before my studies, but I did hear some negative things about it. When I was looking for housing at the beginning, I was very surprised by the low prices. I could immediately afford a flat on my own, where I now live with my boyfriend. Because of the low cost of living, we would like to stay here as well. Mönchengladbach has developed positively in recent years. I have everything I need here and feel comfortable. Moreover, the town is very centrally located in an attractive region. For instance, we often visit Düsseldorf or the Netherlands.
What do you want to do after graduation?
I would very much like to stay here in this region and will probably even stay in Mönchengladbach if I find a job in Cologne or Düsseldorf. I would like to contribute to making the textile industry more sustainable. For example, I can easily imagine myself working in the car industry, because this industry is being forced to change and produce in a more sustainable way. However, there are more jobs in the car industry in southern Germany, so if I get a job offered there, I will certainly take it.
More about the work of Melissa Gruschat: https://melissagrustat.com