Sustainable Seaweed Collection: Nienke Hoogvliet
For Dutch designer Nienke Hoogvliet it all started with SEA ME: A rug made of sea algae yarn, knotted by hand in an old fishing net. Capturing the contrast between the polluting plastic waste issues and the beautiful things the sea has to offer.
Nienke tells Dezeen magazine:
The yarn is created using cellulose extracted from kelp, a large seaweed that is one of the biggest types of algae. The kelp is harvested in South Africa and purchased from a specialist supplier. The cellulose has similar properties to viscose – a chemical compound used to create synthetic textiles – but creates much softer fibers. It’s spun irregularly therefore the thread is thick in some places and thin in others. It has an organic look.
Graduating from Lifestyle and Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy in 2013, Nienke researched seaweed for a year and a half and wanted to draw attention to this unique and underused material. A yarn made of sea algae could perhaps offer a solution for the sustainability issues in the textile industry. Sea algae grow much faster and need less nutrients then cotton for example. She published all of her discoveries in her book Seaweed Research Book, where she shows how seaweed can be used in textiles and explains the different types of this beautiful material with great quality.
Yarn made of seaweed is manufactured in the same way as viscose, except the cellulose doesn’t come from wood pulp but from marine algae. The process is the same.
Hoogvliet share with Wallpaper* about the dying process:
Natural dye with seaweed offers a wide variety of colours. Every type of seaweed gives a different colour. The light fastness of the dye is proven to be more than qualified.
Her latest work: The ‘SEA ME’ collection is, according to Wallpaper*:
The collection is made up of a chair, table and bio-plastic bowls, each of which utilise a part of the seaweed-textile production process. The woven chair, which is comprised of a simple, pale-green tubed frame, is backed by a soft seaweed yarn, dyed with seaweed pigment.
Another great thing about seaweed: It is basically a zero waste material. In the case of Nienke’s SEA ME collection, the waste of the one process is used for the other process. The leftovers of this process are used to create a regular paint for the tabletop. The waste from was used to make the bio-plastic bowls.