Dezeen Magazine

Watch a talk exploring the future of biomaterials in fashion at London Craft Week

Dezeen teamed up with London Craft Week to host a talk with Renewcell, Modern Synthesis and Pangaia exploring biomaterials and circular fashion.

Called Pioneering Innovation in Making, the talk explored material innovation by looking at the proliferation of biomaterials in sustainable fashion and their wide-ranging applications – from furniture to footwear.

The Mills Fabrica's concept store in London
The event will take place at The Mills Fabrica's London concept store. Photo credit: Mariell Lind Hansen

It explored the work of biomaterial company Modern Synthesis, sustainable textile company Renewcell, which specialises in creating high-quality materials made from recycled textiles, and materials science company Pangaia, which works with scientists, technologists and designers to create bio-engineered materials.

The event was hosted by The Mills Fabrica, an innovation platform created to support tech and lifestyle companies in adopting more sustainable approaches.

The discussion took place at The Mills Fabrica's London concept store, called Fabrica X, which features a selection of innovative fashion tech products and sustainable designs.

Denim jeans display at The Mills Fabrica's concept store in London
The talk focused on material innovation and circularity in the fashion industry. Photo credit: Mariell Lind Hansen

Moderated by Dezeen deputy editor Cajsa Carlson, the panel comprised co-founder and CEO of Modern Synthesis Jen Keane, CEO of Renewcell Patrik Lundström and research and development director of Pangaia Craig Smith.

The panellists discussed their individual approaches to material innovation and circularity in the fashion industry, as well as share their thoughts on how to encourage the adoption of these sustainable techniques on a global scale.

Co-working space at The Mills Fabrica's concept store in London
The talk took place during London Craft Week. Photo credit: Mariell Lind Hansen

Panellists also looked at how biomaterials are being used in craft. They discussed new materials and processes, some of which draw upon traditional practises and heritage techniques.

Keane of Modern Synthesis spoke about the role and importance of materials in relation to climate change and the role that microbes can play in paving a future to circular fashion.

She also expanded on Modern Synthesis's microbial textile platform, which uses bacteria to grow new materials in a bid to curb the fashion industry's emissions and plastic pollution.

Portrait of Jen Keane
Jen Keane is co-founder and CEO of Modern Synthesis

Keane is a bio-designer and CEO of Modern Synthesis. Having studied Material Futures at Central Saint Martins and Fibre Science and Apparel Design at Cornell University, Keane went on to work for sportswear company Adidas, specialising in materials design and development.

Since then, she has gone on to co-found biotech company Modern Synthesis with Ben Reeve in London. The company specialises in crafting new materials using biology.

This Is Grown footwear by Modern Synthesis
Modern Synthesis specialises in creating new materials with biology. Photo credit: Tom Mannion

Lundström of Renewcell spoke about the company's patented process of upcycling cellulose-based textile waste, such as cotton clothes, to transform it into a new material called Circulose.

In addition, Lundström explained how a circular approach to design can be scaled up quickly to make meaningful impact, and how the use of man-made cellulosic fibre could form a viable means of achieving this.

Portrait of Patrik Lundström
Patrik Lundström is CEO of Renewcell

As CEO of Renewcell, Lundström leads the textile-to-textile recycling company with the aim to create a circular fashion industry on a global scale.

As part of London Craft Week, Renewcell unveiled an installation showcasing Circulose, which is made entirely from textile waste. The installation is available to visit until 15 May at Fabrica X.

Circulose clothes tag reading "I used to be a pair of jeans"
Renewcell is behind the proprietary material called Circulose

Prior to joining the company, Lundström co-founded tech company JonDeTech and has worked with a number of corporations such as Royal DSM and General Electric.

Smith of Pangaia talked about the company's approach to research and development in material innovation, as well as its ambition to democratise these innovations and make them accessible to businesses.

Portrait of Craig Smith
Craig Smith is the research and development director of Pangaia

Smith also talked about the company's dedicated innovation arm, Pangaia Lab, and its recent launches.

He has worked in development and research-focused roles for over 14 years and has experience in commercialising materials and products, especially in the sporting goods sector.

Woman wearing three colourful Pangaia hats
Pangaia is a fashion brand that uses bio-engineered materials

Smith has worked on a number of high profile projects with brands such as Speedo, Adidas, Lacoste and Lululemon.

The talk took place as part of London Craft Week, which brings together over 250 creatives in a citywide programme of talks, exhibitions, product launches and immersive experiences celebrating craft.

The week-long event takes place throughout Bloomsbury and Mayfair.

London Craft Week takes place from 9-15 May 2022. See Dezeen Events Guide for an up-to-date list of architecture and design events taking place around the world.

Partnership content

This article was written as part of a partnership with London Craft Week. Find out more about our partnership content here.