MIRIAM RIBUL - coding for textile fibres
It’s extremely unlikely you’ll have heard of designer Miriam Ribul, but she has a vision that will completely revolutionise the textile & fashion industry. I’m not talking about getting people to florals or blush pink, but something truly groundbreaking.
Through exploring how design can offer new insights for textiles when designers intervene with materials; not in their finished form, but in the science laboratory, Miriam has developed a hybrid material coding system between DNA coding in living organisms and binary codes in programming.
We caught up with Miriam who broke down how she makes this all possible. We hope her feature on Black Neon Digital will raise the profile of her incredible work, with the aim of making the coding system commercially available.
WHY we need this innovation
In a circular economy, materials that are disposed of at the end of their lives are reinvested into a new lifecycle, and resources are retained in a closed loop. Despite an increased effort to adopt circular models for product design, there is a limited number of textiles that achieve this.
However, recent developments in chemical recycling of cellulose fibres that are derived from plants have succeeded in producing unmatched, high quality recycled fibres. After disposal, these materials can be brought back to their raw material stage, before being regenerated for new use. Though Miriam’s research, design will intervene in the material science laboratory to enable sustainable textile manufacturing where material processes inform a production with reduced impacts across the lifecycle.
HOW does it work
Miriam uses digital and material driven methods to develop design processes that start at the raw material stage in a circular economy. Her research aims to create new models for sustainable textile processes at the intersection of material science and design research.
DeNAture is a physical coding system for a faster and more accurate identification of invisible materials information in a closed loop chemical recycling system. These codes create the fingerprint for each material, and like tree rings more layers of information can be added over time.
Coding at fibre level creates a language, which can include origin of fibre and where the material was made (into a textile).
To aid the traceability of materials at their smallest scale within chemical recycling processes, this code for man-made fibres enables information flows for textiles in a circular economy: Materials that are derived from nature but altered in the process of manufacturing reveal a traceable code that translates the invisible chemical processes and compositions into a pattern that can be read with UV microscopes and sensors. This speeds up identification and application of the correct chemical processes through the connection of scientific research with design, and is achieved without altering the properties of the fibre.
Miriam's work is the kind of thing that we do not get to hear about very often, but when we do it blows the mind, and the power to completely change textile recycling as we know it.
Miriam’s recent publications are the outcomes of research engagements with TED’s ‘interconnected design thinking and processes’ project in the international MISTRA Future Fashion consortium between 2011-2015, with UAL Futures for developing a Digital Creative Toolkit (2015), and with scientists in COST, the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (2014).