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New Store 2.0 hair textiles

Nieuwe Instituut's New Store 2.0 turns free haircuts into textiles in Milan

An experimental pop-up at Milan design week offered visitors free haircuts, then turned the harvested hair into textile artworks and clothing.

As the second edition of New Store, a project by Rotterdam's Nieuwe Instituut, the installation offered a vision of how retail could harness the circular economy to support communities and the environment.

Alberto Fucci gives free haircuts at New Store 2.0 in Milan
Visitors were offered free haircuts from stylist Alberto Fucci. Photo is by Giulia Virgara

By letting hairdresser Alberto Fucci cut their hair, visitors provided the raw material for two different textile products.

Human Material Loop, a Dutch start-up specialising in textiles made from hair, processed some of the trimmings into yarns that were turned into clothing garments.

Alberto Fucci gives free haircuts at New Store 2.0 in Milan
The trimmed hair was collected and reused. Photo is by Giulia Virgara

South Korean artist Woo Jin Joo took the rest of the harvested hair. Working in collaboration with visitors, she produced embroidered artworks aimed at challenging negative perceptions of this material.

"Human hair is culturally coded," the artist told Dezeen. "When it's on our body, it's precious and valued. But when it's other people's, we find it icky and disgusting."

"I'm trying to introduce a new perspective," she continued.

Nieuwe Instituut presented New Store 2.0 in Milan
The exhibition was the second edition of Nieuwe Instituut's New Store

Nieuwe Instituut staged the first edition of the New Store at Dutch Design Week in October.

Conceived as an alternative to the typical museum gift store, New Store 1.0 invited customers to trade their urine for a piece of Piss Soap and to use their phones to provide power for lighting.

New Store 2.0 sees the museum explore more ways of promoting responsible and ethical consumption.

The project is underpinned by the concept that shops could create new value chains, rather than deplete natural resources.

Human Material Loop turns the hair into yarns for clothing
Human Material Loop uses the hair to create yarns for clothing. Photo is by Cristiano Corte

The next stage in the project will see the Nieuwe Instituut open a permanent New Store at its home in Rotterdam.

"New Store is one of our 'testing ground' initiatives for putting ideas into practice – for bringing proposals out into the real world, and seeing how they work," said Nieuwe Instituut artistic director Aric Chen.

"For us as a cultural institution, it's about not just discussing and presenting designers' ideas for confronting our many social and ecological challenges – but also enacting them."

South Korean artist Woo Jin Joo used hair to create textile artworks
Woo Jin Joo created embroidered artworks using the hair. Photo is by Giulia Virgara

Circular design principles were applied to every aspect of New Store 2.0, to ensure the pop-up generates as little waste as possible.

Frank Verkade of research and talent lab New Order of Fashion oversaw a team that included interior designers OSStudio and Jeroen Wand, maker studio Falsework and graphic designer Cengiz Mengüç on the scenography.

Harvested hair at Nieuwe Instituut's New Store 2.0
The exhibition was built using the modular Open Structures system. Photo is by Cristiano Corte

Furniture and display cases were made using a modular system of wood and perspex components, based on the Open Structures construction system devised by Thomas Lommée in 2007.

Elements made from this system include a table, a mirror for the hairdressing area, a cabinet filled with hair samples, a display stand for hanging clothes and a sewing box.

Other exhibitions and installations currently on show at Milan design week include a show by designer Faye Toogood that explores "sexuality and the body" and furniture made from reused skyscraper formwork.

New Store 2.0 was open from 14 to 20 April 2024 as part of Milan design week. See Dezeen Events Guide for more architecture and design events around the world.

More images

New Store 2.0
New Store 2.0 in Milan
Nieuwe Instituut presented New Store 2.0 in Milan
Nieuwe Instituut presented New Store 2.0 in Milan
Nieuwe Instituut presented New Store 2.0 in Milan
Hair textiles on display at New Store 2.0
Hair textiles