SYNESTHETIC VISIONS BY COLLIDE
Words by MARIA PIGATTO & SARA LUCCHESE
COLLIDE is raising antennas – we are opening our eyes to decoding the contemporary narration and selecting the most ingenious, cutting-edge protagonists in the Industry. Believing that all human nuances must be exalted, we aim to move the conversation forward.
BEYOND THE HUMAN-CENTERED PERSPECTIVE – THE POWER OF THE SEA
The desire to fortify the custody of our Planet is increasingly at the centre of our daily purposes. Driven by an ever increasing global current of social awareness and a radical desire to modify our exploitation of Earth, we need a critical assessment of our relationship to our environment and its inhabitants. Cultural-economic processes that preserve planetary resources and its species will be the new objective, in a world increasingly aware of the link between consumerism and climate change. As we delve more and more into a post-anthropocentric approach, our learning process will be informed by nature and other species for sustainable solutions. Therefore, we are witnessing clear behavioral adaptations that will slowly, but increasingly, be mirrored throughout the various fields. In parallel, in specific our relationship with water is evolving, often presenting contradictory aspects – while we look for blue spaces to relax, we experience anxiety about the precarity of this element. Nevertheless, its properties and ancestral power have recently being re-interpreted inside the design field to fortify the kinship with our Planet while creatively celebrating it.
Rising seas is one of the most dangerous effects of climate change. Recent researches show that the world’s oceans level is accelerating and is projected to rise by a foot by 2050, causing a serious impact on human life. This phenomenon is likely to affect a large number of the population with flooding of coastal areas cities. It is at this point that Chinese fashion designer Peiyi Liang foresees that, due to the scarcity of terrestrial resources, most of Earth inhabitants will be forced to elaborate an underwater lifestyle to survive. Spending time living in the ocean, will lead to the emersion of Ecotopia, an era again characterized by a solid balance between humankind and nature. Highly developed biological and intelligent technology will both facilitate people to live safely in an underwater world, creating a harmonious marine coexistence while not harming the environment, which is why making use of Algae, alongside 3D printing processes, should be a valid option in order to not harm, though work with the oceans natural resources. Algae in fact is a primary renewable underwater living material that will be increasingly relied upon in the conception of lower-impact fibers and fabrics. Organisms need light, oxygen and water to grow, representing an important opportunity for the Fashion and Beauty Industry to find alternatives to resource-intensive synthetics. Algae yarns can grow along the clothing and cosmetics frames through a defined elastic structure; they perform their function to protect people from living underwater, providing heat to maintain body temperature through photosynthesis.
Delving into the exploration of circular processes, although in the hospitality sector, Copenhagen-based Natural Material Studio performs at the intersection of biology, chemistry and design, changing our perception of sea-sourced materials. In collaboration with Michelin restaurant Noma and ceramist Esben Kaldahl, it developed a new kind of clay based on leftover Nordic seashells. The project, Shellware, focuses on properties of the different shell residues – the main part of some types, calcium carbonate, can be turned into calcium oxide, which is equivalent to bone ash. With the concept of eating shellfish from a shell-ware plate they aim to highlight the importance of integrating circular reasoning even during something as simple as consuming a meal. Besides, further testing the usage of the materiality, Natural Material Studio created a biodegradable seaweed textile that serves as a complementary table-mat or cloth for a full shell-experience.
Innovation can span all possible and imaginable fields. That’s where Living Ink comes in – a biomaterials company with a mission to apply sustainable algae technologies to replace petroleum-derived products and launch carbon-negative ones. The specific ‘solution’ they have brought to market stands out as pioneering. Living Ink has indeed developed a circulair alternative to Carbon Black – the black pigment that turns black materials such as ink, plastics, leathers and rubbers – made from heavy petroleum and generating a large carbon footprint, as well as being unsafe for humans. The proposed pigment instead is Algae Black™, made from algae and carbon neutral, safe and bio-based, telling a new story of sustainability. These inks are also easy to use, remain black under UV exposure and have exceptional color density, while since it is a pigment, it results extremely versatile, touching almost all the design industries and proven collaborations with brands as Nike, Patagonia, PVH and Cove.
In 2023 and onward, nature will inform tech and vice versa. Both the areas will play a substantial role as one within design. The result will be climate controlling functionalities that are good for the Planet, as opposed to bad. Following this path, Algaeing, an Israeli tech company, is creating a biodegradable and low energy textile biomaterials made from algae. Its formula can be used to create natural fibers and dyes using less water than traditional products. Another Israeli company, Algatech, provides the algae, which is grown in seawater indoor ‘vertical farms’, run by solar energy only, meaning that agricultural lands and fertilizers carbon emissions are skipped. The algae is then converted by Algaeing, into a liquid formula that can then be used as a dye or turned into a textile.
Used in organic beauty products and treatments, algae can have a wide variety of advantages that contribute to healthier skin. Studies have showed that its nutrient density, such as amino acids and mineral salts, provide energy to the skin cells. Skin aging is a slow and gradual process leading to many phenomena, resulting in thinning, dryness and fragility, which is caused by the reduction of the quantity of collagen. A wide range of elements as UVR and pollution stimulate cell surface receptors of keratinocytes, breaking down new collagen synthesis. For this reason, marine algae, one of the most potent antioxidants that functions as a rich source of metabolites, can be smartly employed in order to fight oxidative stress causing skin aging. The growing necessity to obtain safe products by chemical-free processes has made algae become a sustainable and reliable option even for the beauty industry, which is increasingly relying on this powerful, innovative trend. So many companies are now launching products that include algae, but not many are making it their philosophy. One of the few though is Algaktiv, specialized in natural active ingredients derived from microalgae. Their commitment is to have a meaningful and positive impact, integrating several disciplines to create sustainable, highly purified and truly effective actives, making science the primary vehicle for innovation.
In an ode to protect and repair Planet systems, co-dreaming its future legacy, humankind is appealing to its inner holistic nature while relying on the power of one of the most potent and enigmatic resources, the sea.