by Meiqi Peng
How can I form a biodegradable, water-repellent garment using mycelium grown onto recycled cotton?
About the project
Our current water-repellent textiles are mostly non-degradable. Many of these textiles bring negative effects on humans and the climate. Therefore, we urgently need to develop some biodegradable alternatives. I was initially interested in a water-repellent fungus called Split Gill. Through the combination of biotechnology, computer software, traditional textile and recycling techniques, I prototyped a biodegradable water-repellent, regenerative textile.
At first, I collected discarded cotton yarns from a factory and weaved them back into textile. Then, I used this regenerated textile to grow this fungus. As a result, a waterproof layer is formed. In terms of design, I used biomimicry, being inspired by the shape of Split Gill Fungi with the aim to develop a garment and naturally dye it afterwards. The whole garment was hand-made, and I carefully considered the entire production and recycling system to make this garment more sustainable both before and after use. Nature has its own logic and method to prosper. In the end, this is my first attempt to co-design with nature. Moreover, the completion of this project successfully exceeded original expectations in a variety of aspects.
A water droplet onto the mycelium textile.
Split Gill fungi
Based on scientific research, when the Split Gill hypha meets water, its hydrophobins will self-assemble and form a hydrophobic layer, which means this fungus has a awaterproof property.
Microscopic image of the Mycelium.
Naturally dyed recycled cotton with mycelium.
Naturally dyed recycled silk with mycelium.
Naturally dyed recycled cotton with added bio-cross-linker, and mycelium.
The discarded cotton yarn was collected as textile waste from a factory. I naturally dyed this wasted cotton yarn and hand-weaved it into fabric samples.
It takes 14 to 21 days to form a water-repellent layer onto the samples. After that, I customized huge petri-dishes and dissected the clothes into individual parts to grow water-repellent mycelium layers separately.
Growing final pieces in the customized container.
Naturally dyed yarn with mycelium.
I am an interdisciplinary biodesigner with a fashion design background. After completing my undergraduate degree in China, I realize that there are huge amounts of textiles that end up as textile waste every year. Hence, my aim is to design in a more responsible way for our environment and study Biodesign in London. By combining fashion design, biotechnology, and electronic technology, I recycle waste from the fashion industry to design products that meet future life needs.