Brands seeking ways to give mass-produced design a handcrafted feel should take note of Cedit's tile collection, which celebrates the beauty of imperfection through intentional inconsistencies in colour.
As the middle market search for more nuanced, individualised products, the challenge for brands is to produce randomness and even imperfection at scale, without impacting the cost.
Italian ceramics manufacturer Cedit has collaborated with Amsterdam-based design duo Formafantasma to develop Cromatica – a range of tiles which uses subtle nuances of colour to create surfaces with a handcrafted feel. This approach subverts the norms of manufacturing, which typically strives for consistency and even colour across batches.
The collection offers six colours with two surface finishes: natural or glossy. Based on a palette created for Cedit by Italian designer Ettore Sottsass in the 1980s, Formafantasma extended each colour group to its widest range, and applied these hues to the tiles.
A gradated scale of colour is visible in each of the large porcelain slabs. These can be cut into smaller tiles and shuffled, so that a range of hues is included in each pack. For example, the Binaco (white) colour group includes blush tones and hints of green, yet still works as a set.
In our Look Ahead for 2018, we highlighted the growing importance of crafted imperfection in surfaces and products. The challenge for brands and manufacturers is achieving this at scale – a conundrum that Cedit has solved, inspiring others to follow. See our S/S 2019 Materials Focus report Human-Made for further inspiration.
Each summer, the latest graduate shows offer an insight into our creative future, with the next generation of talent showcasing an exciting array of new, unseen work. We scoured the shows for the emerging UK textile designers with the most promising projects and innovative use of colour and materials. Here’s our edit of the ones to watch.
Consumer demand for sustainable goods and advanced technology is on the rise. Smart brands and retailers are finding innovative ways to satisfy these environmentally conscious yet stylistically discerning millennials. Here, we take a look at three future-facing fashion projects and innovations for July.
For more on sustainable solutions, see A Sustainable Journey, Fashion’s Sustainability Surge and Sustainability Turns Smart: Manufacturing a Clean Future.
Addressing the increasingly voracious consumer demand for ethical and sustainable material production, Aussie start-up Nanollose has developed the world's first rayon fabric made of biowaste from the food industry.
The material, called Nullarbor, is made by adding microbes to coconut biomass. This naturally ferments the otherwise wasted industry byproduct to create microbial cellulose, which can be used to create a rayon-based material.
This process uses very little land, water or energy, as well as none of the pesticides and fertilisers used to create conventional rayon, which is sourced from wood pulp. According to the brand, this process can also be used to convert wasted biomass from the beer and wine industries, demonstrating the broader potential for this process.
Nanollose chief executive Alfie Germano said: "My vision is for Nanollose to be at the forefront of offering fashion and textile groups a viable alternative, and decreasing the industry's reliance on environmentally burdensome, raw materials."
This process further shows how ingredients and waste products traditionally found in the food industry can have myriad cross-industry applications, as discussed in our report Trans-Industry Ingredients. It also speaks to growing consumer expectations for sustainable textiles in fashion and interiors, as recently covered in our report A Sustainable Journey.
As the public backlash against plastic continues, an increasing number of brands, designers and organisations are rethinking the way we produce, consume and recycle it. In a bid to further raise awareness, the London Design Fair (LDF) has decided to spotlight the condemned material – naming it Material of the Year.
Returning for its second showcase, LDF’s Material of the Year aims to introduce visitors to the most intriguing materials in today’s design world. At last year’s inaugural event, the title went to Jesmonite.
This year’s show highlights how plastic is being repurposed in imaginative and valuable ways. It will feature the following four noteworthy participants, who are adding desirability through design and treating plastic waste as a new virgin material.
Material of the Year will be on show from September 20-23 – look out for our coverage of LDF in September. For more innovative approaches to plastic, see Evolving Plastics.
Scientists in Florida have developed an innovative colour-changing fabric that can be controlled with a smartphone app – opening up the exciting possibility of on-demand personalisation for a multitude of products.
Created by a team at College of Optics & Photonics (CREOL), part of the University of Central Florida, the smart ChroMorphous technology lets users decide when and how the change happens. Through the smartphone app, users can choose from a variety of predetermined colour and pattern options – for instance, a solid colour can be swapped for a striped pattern, or shifted into a different colour shade.
The fabric is woven using threads that incorporate thin metal microwire. An electric current is passed through the wire, slightly raising the thread’s temperature. Special pigments embedded in the thread then respond to this altered temperature by changing colour. For small-scale uses, the fabric can be powered with a battery pack.
Like traditional fabrics, ChroMorphous is produced on regular industrial-scale weaving machines and can be cut, sewn, washed and ironed. This makes it suitable for a variety of applications including fashion, accessories, upholstery and automotive textiles. Brands looking to create interactive and colourful spaces and products should consider the potential of this versatile technology.
The team is now working on producing thinner fibres in order to make the material smoother and more flexible, and hopes this development will help to successfully merge fashion and technology for seamless applications.
EPS is the perfect material for providing thermal insulation and protecting goods during transport as it is lightweight, yet voluminous. However, it is notoriously difficult to recycle, as these material characteristics also make it costly to process.
Carulla collaborated with Michelin-star restaurant El Celler de Can Roca in Girona to turn EPS boxes – in which it receives food from suppliers – into furniture. After use, the packaging is rinsed off, shredded using a pedal-powered grinder, and transferred into an aluminium mould.
Using steam vapour from a coffee machine and a manual workshop press, the shredded fragments are formed into a solid block. This is then removed from the mould and sprayed with an eco-friendly resin for a resistant coating.
Each stool weighs less than 2kg and consists of six EPS boxes – the number received by the restaurant each day.
This progressive, zero-waste initiative demonstrates how small-scale manufacturing processes that use industry-specific materials can give dimension and tangibility to brand values. This is a concept we explore further in our 2018/19 Materials Forecast Home Ground.
We also feature a sunflower-derived alternative to EPS, developed by Dutch designer Thomas Vailly, in our S/S 20 Materials Focus theme Botanical Modernism. For more on how governments, brands and designers are rethinking the way we produce and consume plastic, see Evolving Plastics.
Consumers are feeling a greater disconnect from natural environments as the world becomes increasingly urbanised. As an antidote to the lack of natural light in urban spaces, designers are finding innovative ways to enhance or artificially replicate daylight in our homes and built environments. Here are three exciting examples.
Beyond anticipation for the millennium, 2020 is the milestone year that has always denoted ‘tomorrow’s world’. Now, our global colour specialists have forecast the trends that will land in real life for this once-futuristic year.
By looking across the creative industries and the worlds of art, technology and science, they’ve foreseen an exciting, vibrant and positive tomorrow – a tomorrow that’s coming fast.
Here are their three defining trends:
Our research this season has seen us jumping into the future whilst looking back at landmark highlights from the past. 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landing, which not only signified a huge technological accomplishment, but also impacted design and aesthetics.
Half a century later, designers are revisiting the symbolism of the moon and celestial formations in a modern context. We’re seeing mysticism being captured aesthetically, through a redefined space-age palette, in augmented environments and products. Three shades from our Colour Spectrum S/S 2020 capture this trend: pale purple Cosmos; vivid, lunar-inspired Dark Windsor; and a particularly spectacular shade of Neon Peach that I want to surround myself with from this day forward.
We’ve been citing the importance of biophilic design within our everyday lives as part of a wider wellbeing trend. As we design sensitively for the future, we look for ways to convey nature’s fluid rhythms and irregularities through enriching patterns and finishes.
Lauren Chiu, our senior editor of Colour & Materials, says: “For Spring/Summer 2020, we imagine calming utopias where living colour nourishes our senses alongside materials that grow and evolve, nurturing our mind and body as they mature.” A botanical palette includes mineral Blue Shale, verdant Reseda Green, and chalky, soothing Rosaline.
In our wider consumer trend research, we’ve been questioning what it means to be human today – considering what unites and divides us, while acknowledging the crucial role of diversity in society’s wellbeing. For a bright, borderless future, we’re inspired by a rich and resourceful aesthetic that draws influence from a broad global audience.
An appreciation of cultural heritage and skills is leading an exploration of traditional craft, as we see time-honoured techniques being invigorated through contemporary construction. This is where colours that convey history and age-old character – like deep Indigo Ink, stripped-back Vanilla and energising Emberglow – come in.
Here, I’ve presented a sample of just nine of the 48 colours that make up our biannual Colour Spectrum, a glimpse at the colours we should prepare to embrace in 2020.
Alongside our global colour specialists, our advisory team can create bespoke colour forecasts with ideas for application. If you’re interested in finding out more, please do get in touch with our Advisory team.
Wishing you a colourful month,
Chief Creative Officer
Polish design student Roza Janusz has designed a new form of edible bio-packaging made from kombucha that can easily be produced by farmers to wrap their produce, allowing them to bring their products to market with zero waste.
The designer claims that the concept could turn packaging production into an enriching benefit for the environment, rather than damaging it.
Scoby (meaning the symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) is produced by adding sugars and other organic substances to kombucha, which is then left to ferment and develop a membrane skin on the top. This is removed after two weeks and forms the thin packaging sheets.
The resulting new material is vegetarian-friendly and completely biodegradable and has a long shelf-life thanks to its low PH. It has a light kombucha flavour on its own, but takes on the flavour of its contents when heated.
Janusz has suggested that the material can be used to package a variety of foods, including fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables, herbs, seeds and even instant meals.
For an in-depth dive into sustainable packaging innovations and solutions, see Packaging Futures 2017/18: Sustainability; Evoware: Packaging You Can Eat; Edible Banana Peel. See also Outside In: Living Materials for similar design solutions and material alternatives using living matter.
Laboratory-grown materials and solutions to our depleting material sources is an important theme in our upcoming Materials Focus S/S 20 story Augmented Space, publishing soon.
Californian start-up Bolt Threads has developed Mylo, a plant-based alternative to real leather. Mylo is made from mycelium – the root system of mushrooms, which grows underground in woodlands and forests.
Mycelium cells are cultivated using corn stalks and additional nutrients in a temperature- and humidity-controlled environment to optimise growth. The resulting material is a strong, interlaced network of fibres which is compressed, tanned, dyed and embossed to produce leather-like characteristics.
One of the main advantages Mylo has over real leather is its reduced environmental impact. Animal rearing takes up large amounts of time and land and creates a significant carbon footprint, whereas Mylo can be grown over the course of a few weeks. And while other leather alternatives are commonly made from PVC or polyurethane, which do not biodegrade, Mylo can be composted.
Grown materials such as Mylo pave the way for a shift in how we design materials and products, as material properties, dimensions and colours can be controlled by manipulating the environment in which they are grown.
Vegan materials are becoming an increasingly important consideration for product designers. In 2017, the inaugural Vegan Home Awards recognised brands including Ikea, Habitat and Made.com for their cruelty-free furniture and homeware. And as reported in our Active Lives Macro Trend, veganism is showing strong global growth, which looks set to expand beyond food and beauty into the broader context of design. See Trans-industry Ingredients for more on mycelium and lab-grown leather alternatives.
For further inspiration, read our 2018/19 Materials Focus report Home Ground.
A research project led by Puma and the MIT Design Lab in the US explores how biological design could be used to produce the next generation of sports apparel, footwear and wearables. It investigates how living materials such as algae or bacteria can respond in real time to enhance the performance of both products and athletes.
Presented as an exhibition at Milan Design Week 2018, the Puma Biodesign research focused on four experiments: a ‘breathing’ shoe, a ‘learning’ insole, pollution-monitoring wearables and adaptive packaging.
Japanese architect and designer Kengo Kuma’s latest work of art, titled Breath/ng, is an impressive fabric sculpture that can absorb the emissions of 90,000 cars per year.
Created for Milan Design Week 2018, the origami-like hanging structure is made from 120 hand-folded panels of an innovative air-purifying fabric that captures pollution in the air, cleans the particles, and generates clean air.
The multi-layered fabric, called The Breath, was developed by Italian start-up Anemotech. It contains a molecule-activated core that separates and absorbs large amounts of toxic pollutants like nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides from the surrounding environment. Anemotech asserts that the material has numerous applications in both indoor and outdoor spaces, and it has already been used to make advertising billboards for highly polluted urban areas.
Kuma’s 6m-tall sculpture uses 175 sq m of the fabric, and is constructed using 46 unique 3D-printed joints. The installation was conceived in collaboration with French 3D-modelling company Dassault Systèmes, whose software was used to design the piece.
The project taps into growing global concerns about pollution and its negative impact on both the environment and consumers’ health. A number of future-facing designers and scientists are looking to address the problem by creating toxin-absorbing materials. See the Reducing Pollution section in Considered Environment to discover a number of solutions with real-world applications, such as air-purifying cement.
Designers, architects and city planners should seek to incorporate such pollution-busting materials into urban spaces – both indoors and outdoors – in order to create healthier environments for consumers. See also Carbon-Negative Building Material Made of CO2.
As part of Milan Design Week 2018 (April 17-22), Milan-based designers Dimore Studio created an exhibition dedicated to classic 20th-century design. The theme ties in with a growing appreciation of cultural heritage, history and age-old character, as explored in our latest design direction Hands of Time from our S/S 2020 Colour Spectrum.
Entitled Transfer, a series of interior-styled installations took visitors on an emotive journey through different cultural and historical atmospheres. The eclectic room sets were housed in fabric tents and filled with pieces from the designers’ historical collections, as well as intimate objects and personal belongings. Visitors could navigate around the tents and peer through openings and makeshift windows at the curated displays inside.
Each room conveyed a different world – including the Silk Road traveller, the séance room, an Italian camping scene, the French Riviera and an Arab harem – and was accompanied by a distinctive scent and soundtrack. Meanwhile, two additional display rooms imagined the cultivated archives of a collector, while showcasing the studio’s best archive furniture pieces.
See our complete coverage of Milan Design Week 2018 for key trends across colour, materials, branded environments, lifestyle and product design.
Influential art fair Frieze (May 4-6) filled a series of expansive tents on New York’s Randall’s Island with contemporary works showcased by global galleries. We highlight the prominent themes and standout works.