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The Future of Living Materials

State of Fashion / Wageningen University and Research

Photo by Aniela Hoitink

This project investigates and develops new ‘living’ materials (eg bio-based materials, textiles from micro-organisms, etc.) for the transition to a sustainable fashion system and a circular society. With the project ‘The Future of Living Materials‘ we connect fashion- and product designers engaged in artistic research and design research, to scientists and master students at Wageningen University & Research (WUR).

In different lab projects they jointly develop new, sustainable materials – specifically in the field of fashion and design – to at the same time come to a new imagination and aesthetics¬† which is essential for the transition to a circular economy and society. We also develop new concepts and business models to ‘market’ these materials.

In the context of all social, environmental, economic and political problems of the current
fashion industry, there is a great urgency to deal in a more ethical way with (raw) materials, and to question their value and meaning. The interaction between the creative, conceptual and aesthetic approach of designers and the fundamental scientific knowledge on sustainable materials of WUR is essential to develop innovative materials, insights and solutions.

The project ‘The Future of Living Materials’ consists of 5 subprojects:

1. A New Luxury: creating new sustainable value chains for fashion, product & interior design:
experimenting with local, natural materials such as algae, pine cones and tulips and
sustainable applications as a renewed form of luxury.
2. Living Colors: in order to achieve a form of ‘aesthetic sustainability’, this sub-project focuses
on the circular life of color, and specifically: the possibilities of a new color palette
development by biodesign (eg color of micro-organisms) and upcycling
dyes and residual ink.
3. Living Leather: research into new materials (eg fruit waste) that can take over the function of leather
as a future alternative to the highly problematic leather industry and the many
leather accessories in the fashion industry.
4. Living Skin: focuses on the ‘behavior’ of new materials such as mycelium, kombucha and algae
when worn on the skin of the human body, and on the personalization of
these materials.
5. Biomimicry: research on the relationship between biomimicry and circular principles with respect to the
development of new materials, design strategies and a social ecosystem.

The folowing designers contribute to this project:

This project is funded by Bankgiroloterij Fonds.