Dignity of materials
2022, MA thesis
When we talk about dignity, we normally refer to living beings. But how about materials? When we change and adapt them, isn’t their dignity touched? John Ruskin once pleaded for a “truth to material” and stated that “there is history in it”.
Despite being buzzwords, eco-design and sustainable materials still face the preconception of being rough, dull and not fashionable. Following my theoretical research on the aesthetics of ecological and as sustainable marketed design, I found that these materials would either be concealed or the eco aesthetic used to promote something as allegedly sustainable. I compiled and curated a collection of undyed, ecological fibres and yarns to offer an overview of the available possibilities and to show the variety and beauty of these fibres. Leaving out chemical and wet processes like dyeing can save huge amounts of water, chemicals and energy. I selected the shown materials closely following a set of rules. All fibres are biodegradable, undyed and untreated. Furthermore plant fibres have to be certified organic, naturally ressource-saving, recycled and/or local. Animal fibres have to be cruelty-free and certified organic, local, recycled and/or a waste-product. Cellulosic fibres have to be recycled, a waste-product, from responsible sources and/or made with a water and chemical management. Synthetic fibers were excluded as they do not offer own characteristics and due to their high need of energy and the shedding of microplastics, which also occurs with recycled synthetic alternatives.
The material collection shows the many available colours and fibre structures. Colour grown cotton has a special place in the selection as well as the colour sorted recycled yarns made of cotton, wool or cashmere. A sense of eco luxury can be found in the violent-free, Belgian mohair cashmere or the Indian organic, fair-trade Peacesilk or the rare mechanically recycled silk from Italy.
The accompanying textiles show the fibres in use. The design was also guided by a set of rules: No printing, dyeing, concealing and no blending of fibres, unless they are recycled and biodegradable. Recyclable, virgin fibres could only be blended if they were recyclable together or in a separable construction, so that they can be recycled at the end-of-life. These conditions lead to three categories: recyclable, biodegradable, separable. All shown textiles are made of undyed yarns and without further treatment.
research, concept, design: Nari Haase
photographs: Norman Posselt