If you were to overhear somebody talk about creating cutting edge textile technology, you might be forgiven for thinking they meant some kind of mental scarf/iPad hybrid. Aniela Hoitink has done something very different, but no less impressive.
The Dutch designer has developed a dress made entirely from discs of mushroom that she believes will “change the way we use textiles”.
Hoitink is not the first to use mycelium (the vegetative substance that makes up many types of fungus), a tower of bricks ‘grown’ from the stuff was recently exhibited in the courtyard of New York’s MoMA PS1 gallery. However Hoitink is unique in having used it to develop a textile.
After observing the way that fungus and other soft-bodied organisms repair and grow by replicating themselves, Hoitink set out to make her mycelium textile modular so that a garment could be mended or altered by adding more of the disc-shaped pieces. Thus the Neffa dress was born.
“The garment can be built three-dimensionally and shaped whilst being made, fitting the wearer’s wishes,” said Hoitink in an interview with Dezeen. “Thus, it is possible to create mycelium patterns, to adjust the length of the garment or for example to add elements. This allows growth of just the right amount of needed material, eliminating every potential leftovers or waste during the making process.”
Hoitink drew motivation from her critical view of the modern consume-and-dispose culture, lamenting the fact that products are designed to be thrown away rather than repaired.
Not only can the Neffa dress be mended and adapted with ease, but due to its biodegradable quality, it can be composted when it’s finally time to say goodbye.