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Brief Published: 30 Jun 2016

Human Hair: Alternative Surface Treatment

Fabio Hendry and Martijn Rigters explore the sustainable possibilities of printing with human hair

Hailing from London’s Royal College of Arts, Design Products graduates Fabio Hendry and Martijn Rigters have looked to human hair – and its abundance as a material – as a way of creating a sustainable surface treatment for metals.

The aptly titled project The Colour of Hair relies on heat – at 250 degrees – to print the hair onto the metal in a similar way to traditional ceramic techniques for decorating wares. When applied to the carefully heated surface, the hair carbonises instantly, taking on the appearance of ink or an etched surface. The transformation during this process is permanent, a reaction caused by the hair’s main protein, keratin.

There are three different processes for varying hair types. Long hair is heat-pressed with hair gel between flat sheets for a print that resembles marble, while medium-length hair is sprinkled, and short offcuts are hand-processed into a very fine powder.

Armed with a resourceful outlook, designers are increasingly revaluing ubiquitous or abundant elements as sustainable solutions for colour and material applications. See New Noble and Balance A/W 17/18 for more on how repurposed industrial waste is influencing a new wave of exquisite, luxury materials.

Our latest Materials Focus 2018 also looks to the creatives transforming waste materials and modern industrial processing techniques as a starting point for new, environmentally considered projects.

Art & Design