Material Explorations : Sustainability

By Esther Ellard

Unearthing the materials behind the making


Thursday, June 29th & Saturday July 1st 2017

Makerversity launches ‘Material Explorations’ a four part series that unearths the materials behind the making through talks and workshops.

At the core of any making process, materials define the limitations of design, raise questions around social and ethical manufacturing processes and create the primary interface between us and our experienced world. In this inaugural event, Makerversity explores sustainability and takes a closer look at how innovation in materials and processes is disrupting what we make and how.

Is sustainability created by the maker, the manufacturer or the user of the product? How can we harness the potential of human hair to create new material supply chains? Can 3D printers revolutionise the textile industry through recycled yarns? These are just some of the questions designers are tackling today.


Open Day | Saturday, July 1st 11:00 – 16:00

River Rooms, Somerset House

Makerversity invites you to explore new materials and processes through live installations, hands-on workshops, demonstrations and participatory artworks, led by material designers working at the forefront of innovation. Drop-in throughout the day to learn about the potential of human hair waste with Sanne Visser, the future of mined materials in the Anthropocene with Yesenia Thibualt-Picazo and vessel making using clay reclaimed from West London’s construction sites with Conor Taylor.

Read about the full line up of workshops below…

Conor Taylor

Conor Taylor is a London based designer who uses innovative processes to develop materials, furniture and interiors. His latest project is Foresso, repurposing high quality timber before it becomes waste to produce a versatile and hardwearing terrazzo sheet material.

In this workshop we will be producing a range of vessels using clay reclaimed from West London’s construction sites. With CNC made forms and moulds combined with ancient pottery techniques we will turn the unrefined clay into a series of naive vessels, containers and sculptural objects.

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Yesenia Thibualt-Picazo

Defining herself as a ‘Material Teller’, Thibault-Picazo explores the narrative potential of materials. Her work is situated between craft practices and environmental concerns. Collaborating with experts such as geologists, anthropologists and artisans, she uses design as a powerful tool of investigation for understanding our relationship with nature. Since 2013, Thibault-Picazo has developed the speculative design project Craft in the Anthropocene, an investigation on the impact of humanity on Earth. 

Engage with the materials of the Anthropocene, our novel geological epoch resulting from the impact of humans on Earth. Join Yesenia Thibault-Picazo in the manufacturing of a collection of human-made minerals, imagining the future geological strata of London. An exercise that invites you to reconsider natural resources and envision the possible materials that could be used by artisans in the far future.

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Sanne Visser

Sanne Visser is a Dutch designer based in London, UK. A material explorer and maker, graduated with the masters Material Futures at Central Saint Martins, UAL. Her main interest as a designer is in material innovation, sustainability and future thinking. The production process is highly important in her work, where craft meets innovation and system design. In her project “The New Age of Trichology,” she looks at how human hair waste can be harnessed as a renewable resource.

In this workshop you will learn about the sustainable properties of human hair, how to turn it into rope and help to co-create a design piece that tells the story of human connections and the power of making.

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Bonnie Pierre Davis

London based research designer, concept builder and maker, passionate about future design to challenge and stimulate the unknown. Bonnie has a multi-disciplinary background within design, working across multiple contexts and applications. Her work is original and stems from sustainable, environmental and social considered factors whilst practising research-led design.

Bonnie invites you to explore embellishment processes that engages and asks you to question the future of textile waste in the fashion industry. You will learn traditional and innovative embroidery techniques and practise these in an abstract process embroidering freestyle, by using off cuts fabrics, beads, macrame yarns, leathers, silks and more. To create your individual embroidered fashion badge that you can proudly wear to express your support towards sustainable futures of making.

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Jenny Banks

Jenny Banks is a British designer who takes a design thinking approach to find circular product solutions for complex industries, such as the fast-fashion industry. In her project, “#sustainablefast-fashion”, she presents an alternative way to manufacture our clothes – a 3D-printing process that transforms 100% recycled textile waste into new, fast-fashion garments – that is versatile and affordable to the everyday consumer.

In this workshop, you will learn about how 3D-printing textiles reduces the fashion industry’s environmental impact and how it might revolutionise the way we consume clothing. You will be able to design and print a textile swatch that reflects your short-term desires/needs for your wardrobe. Your swatch will become part of a collection of samples created over the course of the day, that communicate personal stories of how we might use this technology in our everyday lives.

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Bowles & Betts

Aimee Betts is a mixed media embroidery designer and creator of adornments, who is bringing the traditions of embroidery to the forefront of contemporary design. Discontent with ready-made materials, Aimee often prefers to construct her own embellishments and embroidery cords whenever possible by using fast industrial processes. 

Melanie studied Embroidery design at Manchester Metropolitan University; her work has been exhibited at the Science Museum, British Crafts Council, Tilburg Textile Museum and Chelsea College of Arts, London.

Betts & Bowles invite you to create a communal supper cloth that celebrates the art of needlework. Discover the benefits of stitching as a form of de-stressing that encourages crafty mindfulness as an antidote to modern life.

The Supper Cloth will reconnect you with the art of needlework, exploring stitches inspired by the Needlework Development Scheme 1934-52 and Mid-century embroidery. Working on pre-printed motifs onto linen and stretched on to a communal embroidery frame for all to participate. The Supper Cloth is a live project that will be shared via social media celebrating and sharing community making online.

Betts Instagram   Bowles Instagram   Buy Tickets

The Coal Store

COALSTORE produces handcrafted jewellery, sculpture and clothing made from fossilised carbon minerals. Each piece is made under high pressure and temperatures, slowly converting ancient trees into precious rocks. It is worn and produced in support of the global climate movement.

Millions of years ago, a tropical forest covered much of our Earth. Ages passed – the great trees fell – the dense undergrowth decayed – forming a black humus hundreds of feet thick. The Earth’s crust sank, the silent waters held lordly sway where once the mighty forest stood. Through endless years, silt and sand slowly settled on the remains of the forest. Then the waters receded and another forest grew. Many layers were formed this way. A terrific earthquake then contorted and folded the Earth and the tremendous pressure wrought a magic change – the black humus became Coal – trapping millions of years of forest life and millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide in solid form.


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Posted By Esther Ellard