The future of clothing is bioplastic

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

If global warming prevails, as it is likely to do, our current climate will be entirely different. The weather will perhaps change on a daily or even hourly basis, and to protect ourselves and for our comfort, the future clothes we wear will need to adapt to the ever-changing atmosphere.

Synthetic Protection_ Biointelligent Membranes

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

Cathrine Disney is a London-based researcher who, via synthetic biology principles, has constructed a wearable textile made from bioplastic that adapts to the changing climate. Disney’s interdisciplinary research explores the relationship between materials and emerging technologies, critiquing how we interact with our changing planet.

The project entitled ‘Synthetic Protections: Biointelligent Membranes’ is an exploration into wearable textiles of the future and a collaborative project with biochemical engineer and UCL researcher Dr Darren Nesbeth. “The project is an investigation into the potential of homemade bioplastics,” Disney explains. “The aim was to create a biodegradable, sustainable material with the potential to sustain a genetically modified organism.”

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

Disney’s dystopian project is based in 2100 where the world as we know it has changed due to the effects of global warming. The unpredictable weather has resulted in the need for our clothing to be environmentally responsive.

The bio-intelligent membrane is a non-polluting biodegradable material that dissolves in water, creating minimal waste. The membrane contains genetically modified organisms designed to respond to hot and cold climates and the material appears as a flesh coloured second skin with various holes of different sizes, designed to allow the body to breathe.

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

In cool climates where the temperature drops quickly, Disney’s material produces spiky purple hairs that raise to insulate and protect the wearer. The hair fibres are hollow and light yet oily to prevent water and other fluids from penetrating the wearer’s skin. “In the case of extreme cold, the polar bear has the natural ability many animals possess of growing and shedding their winter coats. This has inspired biomimetic textiles that have the ability to protect the human body from ice-age conditions,” says Disney.

If the climate changes and becomes hotter, the fibres shed- similar to animal skin. After this the membrane grows another surface upon the skin that blocks out the sun’s rays, radiating heat away from the individual.  “In the case of extreme heat, inspiration was taken from reptiles, insects and other natural forms with the ability to survive desert conditions,” Disney explains.

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

Synthetic Protection: Biointelligent Membranes © Cathrine Disney

Disney’s dystopian project forms a dialogue in which to critique the benefit of bioplastics and what they can be used to create in the future. The project shines light on the benefit of using synthetic biological research  as a forward-thinking strategy in the development of sustainable fashion.

Words: Anna Marks 

 


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