Seaweed & Algae Textile Dyes Exhibited at Dutch Design Week
Dutch designers Nienke Hoogvliet and Xandra van der Eijk have collaborated on a project investigating the application of natural seaweed and algae dyes, which they propose as a sustainable solution for the textile industry. Exhibited at Dutch Design Week last month, the designers’ Colors of the Oosterschelde project was the culmination of an ongoing experiment with various local algae species that the designers envision as a viable natural resource for dye production.
By focusing specifically on the coastal Oosterschelde region of the Netherlands, Hoogvliet and van der Eijk collected and painstakingly processed 20 different species of seaweed and algae, managing to extract a surprisingly nuanced range of colors—spanning shades of brown, gold, green, and, more unexpectedly, purple and pink. Testing the dyes on a variety of materials, including cotton, wool, and silk, the designers presented a wide selection of yarns and fabrics on which the colors derived from their algae experiments were impressively showcased.
Colors of the Oosterschelde, an experiment in seaweed and algae-derived dyes, marks the second foray into the material possibilities of sea matter for designer Nienke Hoogvliet, whose previous project, SEA ME, presented a prototype of a rug comprised of old fishing net and sea algae-dyed yarn. By harnessing the intrinsic properties of sea algae—namely, its ability to grow quickly while consuming less nutrients than other natural resources, like cotton, for instance—Hoogvliet offered a premise in which leveraging the sea’s byproducts and waste matter for practical and esthetic gains would, ultimately, protect and conserve the more precious and over-sourced natural elements used in textile production.
Dutch designers Nienke Hoogvliet and Xandra van der Eijk presented more than 2050 color tests of sea algae-derived dye on yarns and swatches of wool, cotton, and silk. The designers created a dye-making system in which only salty sea water was used to extract a range of colors from seaweed and algae, rendering moot the need to waste precious drinking water on the process, and, thereby, offering a truly eco-sensitive option for textile production. With plans to further their exploration into the practical applications of seaweed and algae-derived dyes, Hoogvliet and Van der Eijk hope to eventually collaborate with the textile industry in bringing to light the abundant potential of sea matter, and its implications for creating cleaner, more sustainable production methods.