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Published: 15 Dec 2017

Earthcolors x G-Star Raw: Naturally Dyed Denim

Earthcolors Natural Dyes

A partnership between Swiss chemicals group Archroma and Dutch fashion brand G-Star Raw has resulted in a capsule collection of naturally dyed denim jeans – an initiative that promotes more sustainable alternatives to synthetic textile dyeing.

Available in green, brown and blue, the jeans are dyed with Archroma’s Earthcolors. These high-performance natural dyes are synthesised from non-edible agricultural or herbal industry plant waste, such as leaves or nutshells. Made using up to 100% natural waste material, the dyes can be used without generating any toxic wastewater. For more on responsible and innovative dye processes, see Considered Colour.

Earthcolors feature seven warm, earthen tones, including a brown made using almond shells and a sandy yellow made using residue from bitter oranges. The dyes are currently suitable for cellulosic fibres such as cotton, viscose and linen, with dyes for other fibres in development.

A rising awareness of the harmful effects of industrial dyeing pollutants is causing brands to consider eco-friendly manufacturing processes. At present, many colours are made using petroleum or sulfur dye, and most blue jeans are dyed with synthetic indigo – processes that damage the environment due to chemicals and pollutants in the wastewater.

Other clothing brands such as Patagonia and Kathmandu have also partnered with Archroma to bring natural, sustainably dyed products to market. See our A/W 19/20 Colour Direction Sacred Earth for more on raw and natural colour.

Published: 7 Dec 2017

Pantone Colour of the Year 2018

Pantone 2018: Ultra Violet

Global colour system manufacturer Pantone has announced its forecast Colour of the Year 2018 as Ultra Violet (TCX 18-3838). The saturated, blue-toned purple is cited as a complex colour that communicates “originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking”.

Last year the company selected Greenery, a vivid yellow-green shade that represented new beginnings (read more in our blog post). This nature-inspired hue is now replaced by Ultra Violet. Described by Pantone as an optimistic colour that looks towards the future amid uncertain social, economic and political times, it’s intended to convey an uplifting message of hope.

“From exploring new technologies and the greater galaxy, to artistic expression and spiritual reflection, intuitive Ultra Violet lights the way to what is yet to come,” says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “This is the kind of colour attached historically to originality, ingenuity and visionary thinking. These are the elements we need to create a meaningful future.”

We also explore the uplifting effects of bold and heightened colour in our latest Colour Spectrum theme Playful Optimism: Colour – which includes the shade Electric Violet. Read more about the purple hue group in our Evolution A/W 19/20 colour analysis.

Published: 5 Dec 2017

Partition Uses Colour Gradients to Influence Mood

Nicolas Verschaeve and Juliette Le Goff

Belgian designer Nicolas Verschaeve has collaborated with French textile designer Juliette Le Goff to create Mirage, a spatial partition that employs shifting tonal strips of fabric to alter a space’s ambience and mood.

The Mirage partition can be used to segment open interiors or function as a moveable blind screen, placed in front of a window to create shade and filter coloured light into a space. It can either be suspended from the ceiling or stand on timber feet on the floor. The design features long strips of coloured polyester fabric wrapped around two top and bottom poles and two smaller internal rods that can be pulled up and down to adjust the pieces of textile.

The fabric strips are tinted with alternating contrasting colours that increase in intensity from one end to the other. By pulling on the two interior rods, the user is able to manipulate the combination of tonal gradients to create interesting juxtapositions of pale to saturated, light to dark and warm to cold shades. Recognising the influence of colour – and combinations of colour – on human psychology, Verschaeve and Le Goff designed Mirage to invite users to interact with their surroundings and gain a sense of control over the mood and experience of their space.

Read Playful Optimism from Colour Spectrum A/W 19/20 for more on how luminescent brights are being applied to designs to create a youthful and joyous experience. And read the Light Play section of our Dutch Design Week 2017 report for more on the designers exploring the potential of blinds to create comfort and visual interest.

Published: 4 Dec 2017

Playful Design: Colour Gradients & Illusions

Orijeen, Color Flow

A growing number of designers are producing brightly coloured furniture and accessories that offer an upbeat and light-hearted aesthetic during uncertain times. Aligning with our Playful Optimism A/W 19/20 Colour Spectrum direction, we highlight new designs that employ chameleonic colour gradients and optical illusions to incite interaction and play.

  • Korean studio Orijeen has produced two storage collections featuring lenticular surface coatings that change colour as the viewer moves around them, creating the illusion of depth. The Color Flow series comprises a curved cabinet and wardrobe that shift from vivid yellow to blue, or pink to blue, while surfaces in the Color Words_Hangeul series transform from Korean alphabet graphics to intense blocks of colour.

  • Amsterdam-based design team Rive Roshan’s latest release is the Trichroic Table, a colour-shifting glass design produced in collaboration with Dutch artist Van Iwaarden. The tabletop is composed of three sandwiched layers of glass printed with fine coloured stripes that create a lenticular effect when viewed from different angles. The product launched at Dutch Design Week 2017 – check out our Colour & Materials report.

  • Density Ripple screen prints by Dutch designers Atelier Mats and Anne Ligtenberg explore the interaction between different graphic gradients and colours, creating complex visuals that encourage viewers to inspect the artworks from different distances. When viewed from afar, fine coloured lines blur white space into pastel gradients, while up close they reveal an intricate web of patterns.

For material directions relating to this theme, see Playful Optimism: Materials. For more products with changeable surfaces, see Phase-Changing Colour, Colour-Changing Nanopixels and Colour-Changing Watch.

Orijeen, Color Words Hangeul
Orijeen, Color Words Hangeul
Atelier Mats & Studio Anne Ligtenberg
Rive Roshan
Published: 23 Nov 2017

Preview: Design Miami/Art Basel 2017

Christ & Gantenbein

Art Basel and Design Miami will be taking place from December 5-10 2017. A growing roster of satellite shows and events are set to make this edition the largest and most dynamic to date. Here, we preview some highlights.

  • Design Highlights: Alongside the 33 international galleries on display at Design Miami, Switzerland-based architects Christ & Gantenbein – winner of the Panerai Design Miami/ Visionary Award 2017 – will present its adaptable furniture collection designed for Zambia’s rural Mwabwindo School, due to open next year. Shown as a series of interactive prototypes, the range adapts to children’s needs or classroom activities via a simple interlocking system.

    Robotic fabrication promises to be a strong material direction at Design Miami this year. New York’s Patrick Parrish GalleryMassachusetts Institute of Technology’s Self-Assembly Lab and Switzerland-based designer Christophe Guberan will present the first public demonstration of MIT’s rapid liquid printing technology. With the ability to produce almost any object within a gel suspension, items produced at the show will be available for sale in the gallery’s booth. 

    Meanwhile, French designer Mathieu Lehanneur will present his Ocean Memories series, which uses CNC (computer numerically controlled) technology to create undulating 3D wave forms in rich, hand-polished marble tables, benches and stools. 

    This year also marks the debut of Form Miami – a new applied arts and sculptural objects fair, which is sister to Chicago’s Sofa (Sculpture, Objects, Functional Art and design). Running from December 6-10, it features 25 galleries, plus a travelling showcase of new-wave British makers.
Mathieu Lehanneur
MIT’s rapid liquid printing technology
  • Art Highlights: Alongside the 268 galleries showing at Art Basel within the Convention Centre, the Collins Park outdoor exhibition space will host 11 site-responsive works based on the theme ‘Territorial’. Featuring works by established and emerging international artists, highlights include Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Self-Reconstructed Ellipsis. It’s comprised of three wooden shelters based on those used in Colonia Ajusco – an area of Mexico City, where the artist grew up.

    Following themes explored in our Power Girls report, Fair will debut as a new female-only Art fair (December 7-10), which seeks to address gender inequality in the art world. It will have a 5,000 sq ft storefront, plus site-specific installations around Downtown Miami’s Brickell City Center.
  • Miami’s 37,500 sq ft ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) museum and sculpture garden will open on December 1 – just in time for the city’s influx of art-hungry visitors. Its inaugural exhibition, The Everywhere Studio, explores the significance of 50 artists’ studios, from the post-war period to the present day. And on December 7, the newly reopened Bass Museum will host a global-capitalism-themed solo exhibition by New York-based artist Mika Rottenberg.
Institute of Contemporary Art
Mika Rottenberg
  • Fellow New York-based artist Shawn Kolodny will debut his solo show Fake Fulfillment Center at the Boulan Hotel. Staged as a 5,000 sq ft multiple-room immersive installation, paying guests pass through a series of social-media-friendly, larger-than-life vignettes that confront the reality of modern addiction.

For more on 2017 art trends, see Art Basel & Design Miami/Basel, Venice Art Biennale, Summer Pavilions and Frieze NY.

Fake Fulfillment Center
Shawn Kolodny
TOPICS: Art & Design
Published: 14 Nov 2017

Octopus Skin Inspires Shape-Shifting Material

A team of researchers in the US have developed a 2D material that can transform into a complex 3D structure when inflated. It’s inspired by octopus skin – the sea creatures can create bumps and ridges on the surface of their skin as a form of camouflage.

Developed by researchers at Cornell University, University of Pennsylvania and the Marine Biological Laboratory, the material is made from silicone rubber embedded with a fibre mesh. The mesh – which is placed in ring formations – can pull the rubber into various shapes when inflated, changing the appearance and texture of the surface.

Initial testing has enabled the team to create a material that can take on the appearance of relatively simple forms, such as round stones and a bulbous succulent plant. However, they believe that more complex and delicate configurations could also be possible.

As in nature, the innovative material could be used to improve camouflage for military purposes and scientific research. The team also predict that it could find applications in architecture and the automotive industry, too – particularly if it can be developed to morph into a variety of forms.

For more insight into how dynamic and responsive materials are driving innovation across the consumer industries, see our Materials Focus report Shape-Shifting Materials. See Sci-Bio for further examples of scientific researchers and designers taking inspiration from natural phenomenon to create intelligent materials that blend our perceptions of natural and manmade.

Published: 7 Nov 2017

Colour-Changing Nanopixels

Colour-Changing Nanopixels

Scientists at the University of Glasgow have developed an innovative high-resolution printing technology that makes it possible to print two different full-colour images in the same space. The process uses uniquely structured nanomaterials to render colours instead of relying on dyes and pigments, as in traditional printing.

Rather than using dots of pigment to build up an image, this new technique creates microscopic cross-shaped indents (less than one thousandth of a millimetre) in a sheet of ultra-fine aluminium, which then reads as an image when it comes into contact with white light. Which image you see depends on where the light is coming from and how it interacts with the crosses, so essentially, any image can be created by changing the pattern. The nanomaterials allow for much higher-resolution prints, which do not fade over time.

There is a lot of excitement around the potential future applications of this breakthrough – particularly in anti-counterfeiting measures and long-term data storage. The team of scientists have calculated that one A4 sheet of aluminium film could hold a massive 900GB of data. On a more creative level, it could be used to create a new generation of colour filters for digital photography.

For more revolutionary colouring techniques, see Structural Colour: Bird Feathers Inspire Artificial Pigments, Stretchy Structural Colour and Phase-Changing Colour

Published: 31 Oct 2017

Marimekko x Microsoft: CMF Inspiration

Marimekko x Microsoft

Customisable colour, material and pattern options are becoming increasingly popular within consumer electronics, appealing to consumers seeking products that suit their style and personality. Microsoft is the latest company to demonstrate a flair for creativity in a recent collaboration with Finnish lifestyle brand Marimekko.

Founded in 1951, Marimekko is known for its bold use of pattern and colour, with its signature designs featuring on a wide variety of home, fashion and lifestyle products. Its partnership with the tech giant has led to its signature prints being applied to a range of interchangeable skins and sleeves for Microsoft’s Surface Pro – a tablet-laptop hybrid.

The patterns will be familiar to design fans as they’ve been chosen from the house’s existing catalogue. Options include its iconic poppy print, first launched in the 60s, as well as more recent floral and monochrome designs.

Partnering with a well-known design brand is a savvy move for tech companies, as it allows them to tap into an existing design language and fan base, rather than trying to create their own from scratch. See Samsung’s recent designer collaborations from IFA 2017 for further inspiration.

For more insight into the latest trends in colour, material and finish emerging within personal electronics, see our recent CMF Industry View report.

Published: 26 Oct 2017

Lush Launches Packaging Made from Recycled Coffee Cups

Lush's Packaging Made from Recycled Coffee Cups

British ethical cosmetics brand Lush has introduced new sustainable packaging made from recycled coffee cups, making use of a prevalent yet underused material source. 

Most disposable takeaway cups are made from a composite of high-strength paper and a polyethylene coating, which makes them difficult to recycle. However, UK manufacturer James Cropper, which worked with Lush on this packaging initiative, has developed an advanced processing technique to separate the plastic and paper for use in separate material streams (see Closing the Loop: Future-Proofing Design for more on material and product cycles).

Employing this technique, Lush’s new sustainable packaging is made from 100% recycled coffee-cup paper that has been press-moulded to create a premium feel. The packaging is sturdy enough to be reused by the customer, but can also be processed in mainstream paper recycling.

The square clam-shell box design can store up to four of Lush’s solid bath-oil products and aims to encourage a pick-and-mix approach to purchasing, tapping into the consumer desire for personalised retail. See Bespoke Beauty: New Retail Strategies for more.

Lush is not the only brand using James Cropper’s paper-cup recycling technology. British luxury department store Selfridges recently announced it is also working with the manufacturer to transform takeaway cups collected from its London food hall and offices into materials for its signature yellow paper bags. 

For more on the latest packaging innovations, see our coverage of Luxe Pack Monaco 2017, while Packaging Futures 2017/18 lays out the key trends shaping this industry.

Published: 23 Oct 2017

2.5D Casio Printer Mimics Material Textures

2.5D Casio Printer Mimics Material Textures

Casio has developed a 2.5D printer that enables designers to create textured samples that mimic material finishes including leather, embroidered fabric and wood.

The Mofrel printer relies on ‘digital sheets’ – a material that feels like thick paper and features a layer of micro-powder made from liquid hydrocarbon and thermoplastic resin. When exposed to heat, this combination expands to create a raised texture that is retained once the heat source is removed.

There are three printing stages. First, the pattern is printed onto a microfilm in greyscale using carbon. The infrared-absorbing properties of this ink help to focus where the heat should be directed, with darker areas indicating a higher surface. Second, the heat is applied, and finally the microfilm is removed and colour can be applied using the Mofrel’s 16-million-colour inkjet.

It takes just three to five minutes to produce an A4 sheet, costing about $10 each, and enables a precise finish with textures of up to 2.5mm. Although not yet affordable for large-scale production, Mofrel provides an ideal solution for designers and architects looking to efficiently visualise ideas during prototyping. Casio aims to launch a B2B version of Mofrel next year, with the potential for consumer availability by the end of 2019. 

As prices become more affordable, 2.5D printing could soon be found in wider applications beyond the design industry. In-store product customisation, 3D-printed photographs or tactile solutions for people with visual impairments are all possibilities. 

See Ultramodern Making: Latest Advances for 3D & 4D Printing and Shape-Shifting Materials for more developments.

Published: 13 Oct 2017

Nissan Creates Sweat-Sensitive Car

In a bid to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while dehydrated, Nissan has collaborated with Dutch studio Droog Design on a concept car that responds to perspiration.

The one-off Juke features a sweat-sensitive textile coating called Soak, created by design researcher Paulien Routs. This has been used on the upholstery of the steering wheel and driver’s seat (fitted beneath a protective layer of perforated leather), allowing contact with the driver’s skin and clothing.

The spray-on coating – which was initially intended for use in sportswear – responds to the composition of micro-fluids in a person’s sweat, changing the material’s colour on a spectrum ranging from blue to yellow. Blue indicates an adequate level of hydration, while yellow indicates dehydration.

Dehydration can cause dizziness, tiredness, headaches and slower reaction times in drivers – but two-thirds are unable to recognise the symptoms, according to a 2015 study by the European Hydration Institute and Loughborough University in the UK.

The study revealed that drivers who only consumed a sip (25ml) of water per hour made more than twice as many mistakes (such as braking late and drifting across lanes) as those who were properly hydrated. This is the same level of error as someone with a blood alcohol reading of 0.08% – the current UK drink-drive limit.

For more on hyper-integrated health-monitoring tools and designing for self-optimisation, see The Supportive Sell, part of our Business of Wellbeing Macro Trend, as well as our A/W 18/19 Design Direction AmplifyWe first reported on Soak in 2015, read Hydration-Monitoring Spray for more information.

Published: 25 Sep 2017

Mushroom Mycelium & Timber Used to Grow Furniture

Mycelium + Timber

A collaboration between British furniture designer and maker Sebastian Cox and design strategist Ninela Ivanova has resulted in a range of stools and lights ‘grown’ from mushroom mycelium and waste timber.

The Mycelium + Timber collection is formed as the mycelium grows around purpose-built wooden frames, binding the pieces together. Scrap coppiced hazelwood and goat willow (two British species with no economic value) are combined with the mycelium species fomes fomentarius – a pairing identified as the most effective following the duo’s extensive research.

The mycelium is grown in vats, creating a malleable material that can be moulded into shape by the designers before being dried out. Once dried, the furniture is incredibly strong, sturdy and lightweight. A suede-like texture occurs naturally on the surface, adding an interesting and domestic quality, and the pieces are also completely compostable.

This process of biofacture ­– where biological organisms are used to manufacture new materials – is used across multiple applications, with bacteria, algae and protein fibres providing sustainable material alternatives. By taking advantage of the symbiotic relationship between wood and fungus, this collection explores the potential of mycelium as a material in commercial furniture design.

Mycelium + Timber was presented at the Design Frontiers exhibition at Somerset House in London (September 18-24), which coincided with London Design Festival 2017. Look out for more coverage of this event. For more on natural composites, see New Naturals and Home Ground: Materials.

Published: 20 Sep 2017

Flyleather: Nike’s New Super Material

Nike Flyleather Cortez

Nike has partnered with UK-based eco leather brand E-Leather to develop a new “super material” called Flyleather.

The textile innovation was created after the sportswear giant found the production of leather – its 10th most used upper fabric – was disproportionately unsustainable compared to its other materials.

The fabric is made by mixing loose fibres and recycled leather offcuts with a polyester blend to create a paste, which is then rolled out into sheets of “new” leather. Any waste goes back into the production process, creating a closed-loop cycle. 

The flexible textile is five times stronger and 40% lighter than full-grain leather. It also uses 90% less water to produce and creates a carbon footprint 80% lower than traditional leather.

The eco-friendly material was appropriately launched to coincide with New York’s Climate Week (September 18-24) and forms part of Nike’s pledge to reduce its environmental footprint by 50% by 2020.

For more on fashion’s environmental focus, see Sustainable 360 – part of our Industry Trend The New Fashion Landscape: 2017 Update. For more on Nike’s textile innovations, see Sustainable Wardrobes.

Published: 19 Sep 2017

Colourful Exhibition Celebrates Folk Textiles

Caitlin Hinshelwood, Kissing the Shuttle

A new exhibition by London-based artist and textile designer Caitlin Hinshelwood presents a series of strikingly coloured textile banners inspired by the folk practices of the UK’s historic weaving communities.

Kissing the Shuttle explores ideas of protest and resistance inherent among the industrial workforces of north-west England and Northern Ireland, as well as their camaraderie and traditional songs. Research drawn from various British institutions resulted in imagery influenced by the symbolism, speech and customs of the textile trades during and after the Industrial Revolution.

Referencing union banners, the large-scale textile pieces are screen-printed on silk in brilliant shades of orange, purple and green. Embellishments of rosettes, ribbons and fringing are reminiscent of folk costumes and historic trade union regalia. 

Hinshelwood’s refreshing use of colour leads to unexpected pairings. “I always try to dye a few [base fabrics] in colours I don't like or know what to do with,” she told Stylus. “It forces me to embrace new combinations and challenge my perception of colours I ‘like’.”

Her perception is also influenced by colour-blindness. “People find it surprising… but I don't really think about it,” she says. “I just make the colours as I see them or want them to be. Sometimes I realise the colour I think I've made is different to the way someone else sees it, but I don't think that really matters.”

Held at London’s Cecil Sharp House, the exhibition runs from September 26 to January 28 2018. For more on colour perception, see Breathing Colour Exhibition

Caitlin Hinshelwood, Kissing the Shuttle
Caitlin Hinshelwood, Kissing the Shuttle
Caitlin Hinshelwood, Kissing the Shuttle
Caitlin Hinshelwood, Kissing the Shuttle
Published: 31 Aug 2017

Jesmonite: Material of the Year 2017

Jesmonite Rustiles by PRIN London

A new annual showcase at London Design Fair called Material of the Year aims to introduce visitors to the most intriguing materials in today’s design world. September’s inaugural event puts Jesmonite in the spotlight.

Invented in the UK in 1984, Jesmonite is an acrylic-modified gypsum composite that can be used to replicate the appearance of any material texture, in any colour. Originally adopted by architects and builders, this lightweight and versatile material is now a popular choice among designers for a multitude of products and sculptural objects.

The highlight of the showcase will be Rustiles – a largescale, site-specific installation by British design studio Prin London. Its founder, Ariane Prin, has been working with Jesmonite since 2013, combining it with waste metallic dust to create unique, strata-like patterns on her ceramic series Rust. She is using the same technique for the tiles in this installation.

Rustiles will sit alongside the work of other designers exploring Jesmonite’s versatility.

Material of the Year will be on show from September 21-24 – look out for more coverage of London Design Fair, coming soon. For more on innovative composites, see New Noble and Composite: Smart Materials.