Innovators are looking to various other sources of fibre to create new, more sustainable materials for everything from building construction materials to clothing textiles.
Recent examples that we’ve found particularly interesting include an alternative to fiberglass such as Nabasco, a nature-based composite made from flax, jute and hemp as well as a new construction material, called Biopanel, made from seaweed.
At the recent Dutch Design Week, textile and product designer Nienke Hoogvliet used a fascinating new yarn to create her SEA ME rug.
As the name implies, the Delft-based designer used a yarn made of sea algae, handknotted into an old fishing net to create a delicate rug rendered in soft shades of green. The considered design feels luxurious but seems almost accidental in nature, found among the flotsam that has washed ashore.
Hoogvliet wanted to contrast the sea's natural beauty and resourcefulness with the plastic pollution from discarded items such as fishing nets. In so doing, she has come upon an innovative material.
“A yarn made of sea algae could perhaps offer a solution for the sustainability issues in the textile industry. Sea algae grow much faster and need less nutrients than cotton for example,” says Hoogvliet.
The designer, who has a special interest in natural materials and sustainable production processes, makes work that raises awareness about issues she finds fascinating, from tableware that highlights the scientific design of what we eat to a blanket that explores the theme of individual and collective human vulnerability.