As a concept, product, and textile designer, Nienke Hoogvliet’s goal is to find ways to make the textile industry more sustainable. Of most concern to Nienke is the heavy pollution that is generated in the process of dyeing textiles. Seventy percent of China’s rivers are polluted with chemicals because of wastewater from textile dye factories. The chemicals influence hormones, causing serious health and environmental effects. Therefore, she set out to research how a new material from wastewater, Kaumera, could contribute to reducing the damage.
The scale of production is also a problem; every year 80 billion clothing items are sold. This means 11 pieces per person worldwide. Clothing is cheap and easily thrown away, a trend that’s called fast fashion. Nienke wants consumers to value textiles and clothing more while at the same time making production processes more sustainable by using raw materials from wastewater. She discovered that Kaumera makes textile absorb dyes better, so less water is needed and less is polluted. To add color to the textiles, she used two natural dyes extracted from wastewater: Anammox and Vivianite.
The Kaumera Kimono is an act of rebellion against fast fashion. Kimonos are passed on for generations, cherished and valued. Nienke wants to encourage consumers to think of their clothing that way while using Kaumera, Anammox, and Vivianite to dye them.
For Dutch Design Week 2018, the Energie-en Grondstoffen Fabriek asked Studio Nienke Hoogvliet to curate an exhibition around Kaumera. The studio wanted to show the wide range of possibilities of this material and therefore invited Studio Billie van Katwijk and Studio Jeroen Wand to submit designs using it. The designers all found different applications for the material – from porcelain to textile to glue.