Dutch textile designer Aniela Hoitink has conceived a dress by using pieces of mushroom mycelium. Through her multi- and interdisciplinary way of working and by altering or adding properties to textile, Aniela is investigating how we can and will use textiles in the future and what the related implications will be. Using technology and microbiology, Aniela looks at textile as an extension of the skin, driven by the exploration of their multifunctional layers. And she is on a quest for improving or changing the properties of traditional textile materials.
The initial purpose of MycoTEX was to create a textile out of living material and to learn how to develop a real garment out of it. So far mycelium (the root of a mushroom) has been predominantly used in a solid state in combination with a substrate. Therefore Aniela started by combining mycelium (and its peculiar properties) with textiles, in order to create flexible composite products. Learning whilst researching, her goal turned into developing textiles consisting exclusively of pure mycelium. Along the research process, Aniela developed a method for retaining flexibility without using traditional textile materials.
Aniela’s inspiration comes from the observation of “soft bodies” species. Such organisms grow by replicating themselves over and over again, following some sort of modular pattern. This observation inspired Aniela to build the textile out of modules, a solution which consequently provided a number of important benefits. In fact, in such way repair and replacement of the garment are easy to perform and and do not interfere with the look of the fabric.
Furthermore, the garment can be built three-dimensionally and shaped whilst being made, fitting the wearer’s wishes. Thus, it is possible to create mycelium patterns, to adjust the length of the garment or for example to add elements (e.g. sleeves). This allows growth of just the right amount of needed material, eliminating every potential leftover/waste during the making process.
Her explorations resulted in a fungi dress, which can be adjusted to adapt to fashion, and can also be repaired when needed. Once the garment is not in use anymore, it can easily be composted. In this way, it is possible to completely re-think future possibilities for fashion items.
all images courtesy of Aniela Hoitink