Nienke Hoogvliet has set up a design studio based in The Hague, in The Netherlands that focuses on material research, experimental and conceptual design.
The studio’s projects aim to raise awareness of social and environmental problems in the textile, leather and food industry. Through the use of biodesign new materials are made which challenge current methods and create environmentally friendly solutions.
Nienke has a focus on the ocean, and has researched extensively into seaweed. As well as creating products she has also published the book ‘Seaweed Research’ in which she outlines her research.
SEA ME is a rug made of sea algae yarn, knotted by hand in an old fishing net. As sea algae grows much faster than current materials used within textiles, and need less nutrients, it creates an environmentally friendly option. The use of the old fishing net not only utilises a waste material but also shows the contrast between plastic pollution and the beautiful things the sea has to offer.
Following on from SEA ME Nienke researched how this sea algae yarn could be used in the textile industry and how seaweed could be utilised in general to become part of a circular process. Within her research she discovered seaweed dyes, which turned textiles green, brown, grey and even pink and purple, as every seaweed gives a different colour. Nienke then designed a chair, and a table, to showcase both the material and dyes. The textile of the chair is made of seaweed yarn and dyed naturally with seaweed. She then utilised the waste materials to create a paint for the tabletop and bio-plastic bowls.
The process of dyeing textiles is extremely unsustainable and dangerous as the chemicals influence hormones, and can cause serious health issues. One of the main problems is the scale of the production due to the throw away nature of clothing and the amount needed to be produced to keep up with demand.
Nienke has created a production process that uses raw materials from wastewater. She discovered that Kaumera makes textile absorb dyes better, therefore less water is needed and the water is less it is polluted. The colours used for the textile are made of two natural dyes extracted from wastewater: Anammox and Vivianite.
The choice to make a kimono was well considered as kimonos are passed on through generations, cherished and valued. Therefore it acts as a statement against fast fashion.
One tree produces about 200 rolls of toilet paper and about 83 million rolls are produced per day. This means that the global toilet paper production uses 27,000 trees daily. By using this valuable cellulose again it not only means that we need to cut down fewer trees but it also makes the process of cleaning water easier as well as it removes this waste.
Studio Nienke Hoogvliet has made a collection of objects, consisting of a big table, lighting, and decorative bowls from waste toilet paper. The cleaned pulp was made into unique products to help change the stigma of toilet paper and make it more valuable.