Regrowth: Design Visions for the Future

Imagine your jacket being a living organism can repair itself, reinforce broken areas, and regrow — just as plants in nature do.

An intriguing way of designing objects that are resilient to changing needs is to embrace regrowth. Regrowth involves making repairs and upgrades an integral possibility. The majority of mainstream products intended for consumption are not designed for repairs or upgrades; they are made to become increasingly more unappealing and planned to be obsolete in a matter of a short time of usage.

Contrariwise, the resilient, anti-trendy design-object is upgradeable or maybe even regrowable.

Regrowth in relation to sustainable design can involve upgradability on many levels. It is, so to speak, a seed that is planted in the object from the starting point.

The term regrowth is typically used in relation to regrowing forests that have been cut down. It involves naturally regenerating flora and fauna, and it most often encompasses restoring a diverse ecosystem.

In the creation of anti-trendy, resilient design-objects regrowth involves restoration and regeneration. Imagine if your jacket or your chair was regrowable, or if it was naturally updatable? Imagine it being a living organism that when used and worn would repair itself, reinforce the broken areas, and regrow—just as plants in nature do? This might sound farfetched, but perhaps, as a part of the development of new natural design-materials it isn’t an out-of-reach thought.

Danish furniture designer Jonas Edvard works with local, raw, natural materials such as seaweed, limestone, hemp, and mushrooms.

Edvard’s MYX Chair is made from mushroom-mycelium and hemp-fibres; a material that is grown naturally and fast using no additional energy, and that is both flexible and solid. Using mushrooms and fungus as a material means making use of living materials that are constantly in flux and open to atmospheric changes and usage.

The MYX Chair can be grown, developed, and composed, and thus it mimics the cycles in nature.

Regrowth can also involve working with discarded materials such as plastic or textiles. Instead of growing new sustainable, alterable materials, regrowth can materialise as renewing or upgrading of waste or superfluous materials.

Danish sustainable fashion designer Freja Løwe specialises in natural dyeing of textiles. She uses anything from local plants to food waste to create her textile-dye and embraces the imperfection, rawness, and unpredictability that working with natural, “living” colours entails. The alterability of her garments and spreads is a crucial part of her aesthetic.

As she stated, when I recently interviewed her:

“Each color is an encapsulation of nature’s cycle and the fact that the colours change slightly over time is a reminder to the user of the natural variability life contains.”

Løwe works with zero waste in her design process, meaning that no swatches or scraps go to waste. The usage of the natural dye provides her with a tool that can transform and unify remainders from secondhand sheets and leftovers from her small-scale garment production into a sensuously nourishing expression.

Creating design-objects that are alterable and resilient to changing needs is in its core the equivalence of designing objects that are alive: objects that are made to contain traces of usage, that are adaptable to changing needs and situations, that are raw and open, and made to develop and take shape or regrow.

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