Vibrant colours and iridescence can be found in nature from insects to bacteria. Many of the structures that create these colours are in fact colourless. Structural colour comes from the reflection of light from nanostructures, as shown in butterfly wings. But some of the colours are produced from chemical pigments that look the same from all angles. By combining both the nanostructures and the chemical pigments scientists are able to produce incredible colours and change the way colour is produced, thus making products more sustainable as it limits toxic chemicals and creates more efficiency.
It is common knowledge that the fashion industry is highly polluting. Microplastics are produced through many different elements of the industry, but small sequins and beads can cause harm straight after use. These are usually made from petroleum based plastic or synthetic resins. Elissa Brunato has collaborated with material scientists Hjalmar Granberg and Tiffany Abitbol from the RISE research institute of Sweden to create bioiridescent sequins.
These utilise cellulose to create iridescence qualities from light. Crystalline was extracted from the cellulose found in wood. The final sequins are compostable but create ever changing colours and light reflections.
Shimmering Wood was created by Noora Yau from 100% wood. Unlike most existing wood finishes/dyes, structural colour does not fade in sunlight. The non-toxic colour is created through microscopically small nanostructures, like those found in peacock feathers or butterfly wings. The physical structure produces the colour without the need for harmful chemicals which are usually found within metallic finishes.