Spotlight on Two Innovative Fashion Winners from the Redesign Everything Challenge

The deeper our understanding of the world, the more apparent it becomes that many of our creations and consumptions are problematic –to put it mildly. Considering that we currently use 73% more resources than the earth can renew and according to EU Science Hub, the design of a product influences up to 80% of its climate impact it’s clear nearly everything can be redesigned to be better. And luckily, What Design Can Do (WDCD) is helping facilitate this.

WDCD is an international organization based in Amsterdam that seeks to accelerate the transition to a sustainable, fair and just society using the power of design. With hubs stretching from São Paulo to Tokyo, WDCD has been advocating for sustainable and equitable solutions through design since its inception in 2011.

A significant part of this movement is the annual Redesign Everything Challenge, a Climate Action Challenge in partnership with the IKEA Foundation, launched to unearth and promote creative solutions to climate issues.

Redesigning Everything is first and foremost a call to action. It’s also an invitation to think laterally about how our world should be redesigned, in ways both big and small. Now, more than ever, there is an urgent need for inclusive and circular solutions, and for the transformative and disruptive power of design. –Richard van der Laken, co-founder and creative director of What Design Can Do

The recent Redesign Everything Challenge had 557 entries from around the globe. Out of these, 11 projects were chosen for their promise and potential. These winners will now embark on a transformative journey, starting with the Redesign Everything Accelerator Programme in Amsterdam this July, where they will receive crucial funding, mentorship, and training.

Today, we spotlight two groundbreaking projects both of which utilize fashion as their medium for change.

Cellsense by Aradhita Parasrampuria: Innovating Bio-Embellishments

Top created with Cellsense beads which change from pink to purple in the presence of sunlight. –from Instagram

Aradhita Parasrampuria, previously featured by No Kill Magazine as a next-gen designer, has continued to evolve her sustainable design practices. Previously she was working with bacteria as a toxic-free way to dye material and at the time shared with us her motivation.

“While working in an Indian textile factory, I saw laborers exposed to toxic chemicals develop chronic respiratory issues and suffer from diseases that caused their skin to peel off. This experience taught me the urgent need to move away from the “take-make-dispose” pattern of manufacturing.”

Fast forward four years and her current project (and company), Cellsense continues to move away from traditional manufacturing. They are developing nature based alternatives to conventional beadwork that rely on petroleum plastics and often result in unethical labor practices and microplastic pollution.

Cellsense’s innovation lies in its use of algae and cellulose to create durable, transparent bio-embellishments that replace the need for toxic dyes with naturally colored, bioluminescent bacteria. This not only avoids the use of hazardous chemicals but also significantly reduces the production time and labor with the help of automated technologies.

Aradhita’s dedication to ethical labor and environmental sustainability is evident in her recent collaboration with jewelry designer Roma Narsinghani showcasing the practical application and aesthetic appeal of these bio-embellishments.

Celium™ by Polybion: Cultivating Scalable Bio-Textiles

Ganni bou bag made from celium by polybion
Ganni Bou bag in Celium

Polybion, a Spanish biomaterials producer, has made significant strides with its cultivated cellulose product, Celium™. Recently made available worldwide, Celium™ is grown by feeding bacteria with agro-industrial fruit waste, forming a unique cellulose structure. This leather-like material is not just a substitute for leather; it creates an entirely new category due to its versatility and the ability to tailor its properties for diverse applications like fashion, sportswear, and automotive interiors.

Celium™ can be dyed, embossed, and tanned using existing infrastructure, with chromium-free processes ensuring an eco-friendly production cycle. It is vegan, organic, and exceptionally strong, distinguishing itself by its minimal environmental footprint and absence of hazardous chemical release during production.

Highlighting its potential, Danish fashion brand Ganni showcased a Bou bag made from Celium™ at Copenhagen Fashion Week, demonstrating the material’s applicability and appeal in high-end fashion. This development signals a promising future for Celium™, as it aligns with global production capabilities and existing large-scale fermentation technologies, making it a scalable solution for sustainable material needs across industries.

The initiative reflects a deep understanding of the challenges and potentials in scaling new materials, addressing the often-cited dilemma: “If a material is eco-friendly but cannot scale, does it really solve a problem?” Hopefully, with its ability to scale Celium will come more fully to market quickly –and perhaps winning the Redesigning Challenge will facilitate this.

–Katya Moorman

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