SEA ME Showcases The Potential of Designing With Seaweed

Dutch designer Nienke Hoogvliet has spent the past two years exploring the possibilities of creating seaweed based products made from cellulose extracted from kelp. The results of her studies include a soft yarn made from seaweed, a surprising colour palette of natural textile dyes as well as a bioplastic. The products in her new SEA ME Collection showcases the material and design possibilities of seaweed stemming from her investigations with an innovative chair and table top design.

The seating of the chair is made of seaweed yarn and dyed naturally with seaweed. This was woven by hand into a soft seating. The leftovers of this process are used to create a regular paint for the tabletop and this waste was used to make the bio-plastic bowls.

Sustainable Seaweed:

Nienke Hoogvliet’s exploration of seaweed was made possible by funding from the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, allowing her to research not only how seaweed yarns can be utilised in the textile industry, but also in what other ways seaweed can be used. Nienke worked on creating a circular process to optimally use the seaweed. The waste of the one process is used for the other process, ending up with zero waste.

‘Seaweed has great sustainable potential as a material,’ Nienke explains. ‘For example, it cleans the seawater from pollution like phosphates, since these are nutrients for the seaweed. Seaweed takes CO2 and converts it to oxygen, it’s even one of the main sources for oxygen on earth! Other important benefits – even though it sounds obvious-: we don’t need valuable farmland to grow it and we don’t need to water the plants. ‘

Nienke further explains that she discovered even more potential than she had expected: natural dye with seaweed offers a wide variety of colours. She can dye textiles into greens, browns, greys and even pinks and purples. Every type of seaweed gives a different colour. And furthermore, the light fastness of the dye is proven to be more than qualified.

More About SEA ME:

The process and research are documented in a book called – SEAWEED RESEARCH by Studio Nienke Hoogvliet. Available only in Dutch, an English translation is expected later this year.


Els Zijlstra