Sponge bikini is designed to absorb pollution from the sea


This bikini is made from a sponge-like material that repels water but absorbs oils, designed to help filter impurities from water and turn swimming to an "eco-friendly activity".

Spongesuit by University of California

University of California engineering professors Mihri Ozkan and Cengiz Ozkan made the porous material called Sponge from a network of nanocarbons originating from sugar.

The lightweight material has a surface area of 823.77 square meters per gram and can absorb up to 25 times its own weight, depending on the density of the substance.

Spongesuit by University of California

New York architecture and design studio Eray Carbajo used the material to develop the Sponge Suit bikini for Reshape15, a wearable technology competition in which it was awarded first place for its pollution-absorbing qualities.

"Sponge Suit is an environmental proactive swimwear that cleans seas as we swim," said studio co-founder Inanc Eray. "It aims to transform the swimming experience into an eco-friendly activity."

Spongesuit by University of California

"By absorbing all oil-based contaminants and repelling water, the material is a powerful tool for water decontamination," added Eray.

The Sponge Suit is built from two components – a net-like exterior shell made from 3D-printed plastic that flexes to fit the body and a filler made from Sponge.

The design is intended to represent the porous, mesh-like structure of the material while also "pushing the limits in translucent swimwear design."

Spongesuit by University of California

The Sponge portion of the design is intended to collect impurities from the water as the wearer swims and to retain them. Absorbed substances can be released from the material by heating it to temperatures of 1,000 degrees celsius, when it can be filtered of contaminants and reshaped for reuse.

"In the near future it is not hard to imagine facilities, much like dry cleaning locations, that collect the Sponge Suit's inner Sponge fillers to recycle to separate any contaminants," said the team.

Images courtesy Eray Carbajo.

Project credits:

Technology team: Mihri Ozkan, Cengiz Ozkan
Design: Eray Carbajo
Design team: Inanc Eray, Gonzalo Carbajo, Pinar Guvenc, Marco Mattia Cristofori

  • Brielle Curvey

    Objectification of women disguised as a poorly executed piece of tech.

    • Vigarano

      Yes, one would think the “eco-friendliness” of the concept would have been greatly enhanced by producing a bodysuit rather than a bikini.

    • minusthetoast

      Seriously? It’s petty to battle the patriarchy over a water-cleansing swim suit when there are glaring examples of real discrimination and injustice against women happening all over the world.

      • lolfeminists

        Does it surprise you that a Feminist hops on the first chance she gets to whine about “the patriarchy” though?

  • Beth Plastic-Free Terry

    WTF? I guess you could mitigate any harm to the actual women by dying them pink and donating 1% to Susan G. Komen. What a genius idea, using women’s breasts to concentrate and collect cancer-causing pollutants.

    Oh wait. Women’s breasts are already doing this job, which is why there are so many toxic chemicals in breast milk. I hope this idea is meant to be ironic rather than a real solution.

    The suit could work as art, drawing attention to the problem, but please don’t ask actual women to wear it and expose their bodies to hazardous chemicals in this way.

  • Chad Sutter

    Because women want all that stuff filtered out of the water against their bodies? Where are the men’s trunks, or Speedo’s made of this great filter fabric? I can see surfers lining up to have wetsuits made of this…not really.

    Wait – make this for kids swimwear, too! Then the whole family can wear polluted garments. This is why swimming pools have filter systems and why our drinking water is treated, so we don’t have to consume or come into contact with (or wear) the pollution.

    Do “larger” women get the suits for less since they’re filtering more water and doing the earth better? My final question is by heating it to 1000 degrees Celsius to release the contaminants, aren’t you making more pollution than you’re capturing? This swimsuit is stupid, and I’m not so sure about the fabric.

  • dick_c

    Wait, so someone is supposed to gather high concentrations of pollutants against their skin in an effort to remove these relatively infinitesimal amounts from the oceans?

    We want to reduce pollution so we *don’t* have to come into contact with it.

  • Alan Drobnak

    This just may win the dumbest new product award of 2015. Perhaps a clever concept but absolutely stupid execution.

  • disqus_U0qT6IgGC8

    A real living-swimming-ocean duster? I suddenly don’ t care about becoming a mermaid anymore.

  • Selma

    Is this a joke? What a ridiculous idea at every level – from the absorption to the extraction. Trying too hard to be clever.

  • James

    Attention-grabbing product that is completely flawed. Dezeen shouldn’t have published this.

  • Jana

    Can we extend the application of the material to boats? The outside shell of the boats could clean the seas.

    • SteveLeo

      It is nice to see someone looking at this from a productive angle.

  • marc scime

    Facile click-bait. The antithesis of good design.

  • Perry Johnson

    Do you think it is a good idea to have concentrated pollutants that close to the skin, especially the reproductive organs of men and women?

  • Katherine

    I like the style of this costume! I would like to dress it. I have a question: is a g-string variant of this bikini available?