Text description based on the information provided by the team*
“Health has been the major focus across the world for the past two years. Even before the pandemic, studies have found that we spend 90% of our time indoors. The enforced isolation that many people faced during this time has led to a greater appreciation of the benefits of being outdoors and the power of nature. It has also become more apparent that the indoor environments we inhabit can have a detrimental impact on our health. Therefore, the brief asked: What can we learn from nature to create healthier materials? And how new materials could have an impact on these spaces?”
The winning project by Lily McDonnell reflects her Norfolk roots and involved an unlikely mix of materials, rust, seaweed, and salt, all brought together to create more sustainable and user-healthy processes within the design. The project experimented with natural dyeing using metals, exploring SeaCellTM, a type of material made with seaweed, and the process of adhering salt to textiles. For each, the focus remained on creating materials with benefits for the user and the environment. SeaCellTM is full of nutrients, antibacterial, and rich in oxygen. Salt therapy is a spa method that involves breathing in air with tiny salt particles. It has been proven to ease a variety of conditions, improve the respiratory system, and improve mental well-being. The conclusions of McDonnell’s work led to the idea of introducing oxygen-rich salt therapy into commercial spaces by interlacing salt into SeaCellTM woven textiles and existing air filtration systems.
The project by Minshu Chen had been inspired by biomimicry and explores natural alternatives for adhesives and their application in automotive interiors. Chen experimented with okra-based alternatives. Inspired by the application of mussel byssus filaments (of mussels) in weaving and bonding processes using its adhesive proteins, Chen conducted a series of adhesion experiments with okra using the theory of bionics or biologically inspired engineering. Through textile design, this work could provide new ideas and avenues for eco-friendly adhesives, exploring their application in numerous potential settings.
Monika Dolbniak took an empathic approach with her project dealing with sensory overload on public transport, by creating a nature-inspired solution to ‘fidgets’. Initial material sampling including wax and honey to find a sustainable and circular substitute for the non-biodegradable silicone typically used in these products. The alternative bio foams and plastics explored in the project have various stimulating textures. Senses such as touch, smell, and sight are triggered by natural additions to their surface including cork, groats (hulled kernels of various grains), and aromatic oils – helping to ensure it remains 100% biodegradable.
The latest social trends inspired Madeline Wozencroft’s research on wellness culture in California. Her project developed a multi-purpose tile made from 100% vegan materials. Organic natural pigments from Japanese knotweed bark and spirulina generate a variety of color tones that are used to create modern geometric patterns, highlighting the uniqueness and craftsmanship of each tile.
Soobin Yang’s work involved creating prototype electrocardiogram ‘ECG’ pads that are made using alginate sodium film( formed from 70-80% seaweed) for the part that comes in contact with the body. The materials are dyed with natural pigments that dissolve in water. Regular ECG pads take decades to decompose, while Yang’s prototype would decompose in a few minutes.
Florence Sargent’s research considers the development of a sustainable and biodegradable foam, derived from bones, that can be used in public interiors, especially for seating design. The material can be recycled and regenerated in the future. The colors used had been derived from natural ingredients, and when combined with the elements used in the bio-foam they remain saturated.
Jessica Kirkpatrick’s project involved creating food packaging using seaweed. Kirkpatrick explored the various properties of seaweed species in their many forms and the qualities they hold, like strength, and waterproofing properties. Developing the initial ideas, the addition of household waste paper meant that the material could have more structure and has the potential to replace traditional paper packaging used in the food industry, as one example.
Jemma Ooi, Tutor, Printed Textiles at the Royal College of Art and partner for the annual project says: “It’s incred-ibly helpful for the students to follow a live brief from PriestmanGoode. Through the lens of textiles, the students have developed a range of new materials with different applications and positive outcomes for people. With fur-ther development, these new materials have the potential to be part of a more circular system and also be beneficial for our health.”
The exhibition can also be viewed online.
The annual programme is a part of the PriestmanGoode’s commitment in supporting creative education, with the winning student selected for a paid internship with the company.