Dutch designer, inventor, researcher and fashion pro Aniela Hoitink has taken everything we know about fabrics and turned it on its head. This ain’t your father’s wool and cotton.
Perhaps “creative scientist” should be added to her résumé, too. You may think of cotton, silk or nylon when you hear the word “fabric.” Hoitink, on the other hand, has conjured up dresses made of mushroom fungus and wallcoverings that turn different colors as your room changes temperature.
With 15-plus years of high-level fashion experience under her belt (at Tommy Hilfiger, for example), Hoitink knows fabrics and how they move and react. Now, through her Neffa company, she aims to investigate new technology and innovations and to see how they can improve traditional fabrics or create new ones.
Neffa’s textile design projects tackle fabric and its uses very differently from the mainstream. The company’s design team describes its approach this way: “Combining creative ideas, surprising angles and unexpected objects with technological innovations, microbiological research and/or traditional working methods produces tangible results that appeal directly to the imagination. Many of these projects have a ‘reactive capability’: The options that are built into the design require users to make decisions and so to add something of themselves.” Is it fashion, science or art?
Neffa is always looking for equally innovative companies to help take its concepts through development and into commercial production. We’re crossing our fingers that we’ll soon see some of its design ideas on the runway or in the stores.
Here, a quick look at just a few of Neffa’s unusual concepts.
The Dynamic Skin outfits are modeled on the human body’s metabolism and they collect and store solar energy to generate warmth or light. Five basic “inspirational outfits” were designed as reflections of the human microbiome, blood circulation, muscles, nervous system and bones, the designers say, and they spun off new ideas from there.
Neffa came up with its Living Wall concept when the designers were mulling over the idea of seasons and how air-conditioning and central heating have made our indoor temperature fairly steady. The leaves on the walls change color as the room heats or cools, bringing virtual seasons into the home.
Watch the Living Wall in action:
Using living material to make a fabric intrigued Hoitink, and she investigated using mycelium to create clothing. It’s an environmentally friendly fabric, as you paste it onto the frame of the garment and just grow as much as you need. No waste! And of course it doesn’t require chemicals and can be composted when it reaches the end of its useful life.
Curtains are usually seen as fabric blockers — they block light, they block prying eyes and they block drafts in the winter or heat in the summer. Neffa, of course, found a new way to envision them, and went positive, creating flexible solar panels to harvest heat during the day. Connected heating yarns and LEDs can be powered off the stored energy, heating the room or providing lighting. Just over six hours in full sun generates and stores enough energy to heat for three hours or power the LED lighting for 24 hours.