Clothes that grow

Rootful by Zena Holloway

Sustainable Innovations

7. February 2023

Nature as a 3D printer: material designer and underwater photographer Zena Holloway creates shapes and forms from wheat grass roots that grow in self-carved moulds made of beeswax. The supposed magic lasts for twelve days – the roots spread out horizontally or vertically and make their individual way through the wax templates. Depending on the shape of these, the roots either grow small in a confined space so that they become flat and compact, or if there is more space they can root deeper and three-dimensional shapes emerge. Immediately after harvesting, the roots are heavy and moist, after 24 hours they dry out and become light as a feather.

Each growth cycle produces a different result – all products are therefore individual pieces that can be further shaped by cutting, sewing, tearing or linking. For example, they can be used to create large, hanging structures, to shape vessels or to produce clothing and accessories. The wheatgrass roots also react particularly well to natural dyeing processes. In the name of sustainability: the water that accumulates and runs off during production can be reused and the leftover shoots, seeds or roots can be reused as animal feed. In addition, the dried root is a kind of botanical skeleton that binds carbon. Thus, the Rootful project demonstrates a micro-level approach to solving the complex problem of climate change.

Growing artefacts from root is the simplest concept but captures the imagination of a wide audience.
I’m learning that root is a wonderful material to create fashion and art, serving to open up conversations around materiality and sustainability that inspire change.

In the name of sustainability: the water that accumulates and runs off during production can be reused and the leftover shoots, seeds or roots can be reused as animal feed. In addition, the dried root is a kind of botanical skeleton that binds carbon.

Thus, the Rootful project demonstrates a micro-level approach to solving the complex problem of climate change.

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