Fabrica X, the gallery and concept store for sustainable brands within the innovation hub, The Mills Fabrica, has opened a new exhibition spotlighting biomaterials and craftsmanship as part of London Craft Week 2023.
The ‘Biomaterials Reimagined’ exhibition runs until August 31 and pays homage to traditional techniques while celebrating a new form of craftsmanship being created by scientists and bio-designers, such as engineering microbes, bacteria and fungi into lab-grown shoes and clothing.
The immersive exhibition is supported by knowledge partner Biofabricate, experts in biomaterials, and showcases the latest biomaterial innovations within the fashion and textile industry. From the world’s first 100 percent plant-based fur to a home laundry process that restores old, worn clothing, a process that turns bear into a plastic-free leather alternative, and how a new start-up is looking to make sustainable fibres for textiles out of potato waste.
Highlights include discovering BioPuff, created by British-based material science start-up SaltyCo, which offers a plant-based fibre fill alternative to goose-down or synthetic fills. BioPuff is lightweight, warm, and naturally water resistant, as well as being biodegradable, carbon neutral and cruelty-free. It also promotes biodiverse ecosystems as it is created by growing plants using regenerative wetland agriculture.
“Restoring just 3 percent of Europe's peatlands for BioPuff production could reduce European agricultural emissions by 25 percent whilst producing over twice the global supply of goose down,” explains SaltyCo.
The Mills Fabrica spotlights the evolving world of biodesign within fashion
While London-based Arda Biomaterials showcase how they are turning the protein-rich spent grain from breweries into a plastic-free leather alternative. The spent grain is typically high in protein, cellulose and lignin, and by using supramolecular structures that mimic the framework of collagen, Arda Bio can create a material that is strong and durable without relying on traditional plastic-based materials. The start-up also adds that it can create this material in under 24 hours, making it a scalable and efficient solution for producing sustainable leather alternatives.
The exhibition also highlighted BioFluff, the world’s first plant-based fur solution. It aims to reduce the consumption of traditional fur products by creating a range of fur fabrics that mimic the look and feel of fur without the ethical concerns of animal fur or the environmental impact of synthetic fur. BioFluff is designed and manufactured in Italy and produced from natural materials combined with sustainable biotechnology to offer a tactile appeal, warmth and aesthetic similar to animal fur.
While Biorestore shared its minimal-impact home laundry Re-Tergent, which renews, revives and restores old, worn clothing to new in a single wash. The solution removes pilling, refreshes colour, revives shape and surface, as well as renewing the garments print, in a bid to save 13 million tonnes of clothing sent to landfill globally because they are ‘worn out’. It states that one use of Biorestore can double a garment's life extension, reducing 50 percent of CO2 emissions across the garment's total lifecycle.
The exhibition also included Fibe, the pre-seed stage start-up that has a lab within The Mills Fabrica, which is on a mission to turn potato harvest waste into sustainable fibres for textiles. The brainchild of four design engineers from Imperial College London, Fibe is currently in the pilot stage and is looking to produce 3 kilograms of fibres by the end of the year, with the hopes to begin sales in 2024.
Other brands included in the exhibition are Colorifix, the first company to develop an entirely biological process to create dyes for the fashion textile industry using DNA sequencing; Skin Series, a textile research company rethinking the material and skin interaction; Ocean Safe, a pioneer textile technology company developing fully circular, biodegradable, recyclable, and toxicant-free textile materials; and Notpla, a packaging company creating biodegradable materials made from seaweed and plants.
Alongside the free exhibition, Fabrica Lab is also hosting a series of workshops, including a Colorifix screen-printing session with bacterial dyeing technology and a bio-embellishment and embroidery workshop by CQ Studio making sequins from seaweed.