DEA MARCELA - sustainable textile innovation, connectivity & collaboration

DEA MARCELA - sustainable textile innovation, connectivity & collaboration


I contacted Dea Marcela back in July 2017. Since then we’ve been in contact on and off, checking in to see how her projects are progressing. And I can say she’s been very busy. It’s taken quite a while to get Dea’s profile online, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing as in this time her work has evolved and gained recognition. 

Dea has an amazing way of looking at things, wellbeing and spirituality spread throughout her life and work, citing Ikigai as being influential to her approach and communication of ideas. 

The Japanese concept, Ikigai (pronounced Ick-ee-guy) means a reason for being, similar to the French phrase Raison d'être. Everyone, according to Japanese culture, has an Ikigai. Finding it requires a deep and often lengthy search of self but is considered crucial to longevity and a life full of meaning. 

Ikigai can be found where the four primary elements overlap:
What you love (your passion)
What the world needs (your mission)
What you are good at (your vocation)
What you can get paid for (your profession)


Having gained a Bachelor of Arts in Design from Design School Kolding in Denmark, Dea uses material innovation and engineering to create sustainable textile products with a performance wear focus. I was not only drawn to Dea’s innovations but also the beautiful imagery she creates to communicate her concepts. I asked Dea if she works with someone to create the graphics, photos, and branding.

I make the imagery, I’ve always worked in this way. In relation to the identity, visual expression and aesthetics, I ask if I stepped away from it (imagining I was someone else looking at it) would it be tangible, would it evoke emotions that are universal. I think that’s one of the strengths I have, the communication. We have to focus on how things look too because if the product isn’t beautiful we wouldn’t choose it, we wouldn’t buy it.
— Dea Marcela, in conversation with Jodi Muter-Hamilton
Dea Marcela, The Engineered Body

Dea Marcela, The Engineered Body

Having great ideas is one thing, but being able to communicate it to others to gain support and recognition is another. This is why Dea stands out, she is extremely perceptive and uses her curiosity and intuition to emotionally engage others through her work.

Dea is currently doing her MA working on projects including - Reflecsis - which looks at how technology has altered our self perception. Answering questions such as; Has our sense of self become blurred by technology? What if it would be possible to define a higher sense of self in a hyper data future and technological world? 

These concepts really resonate with me. How technology can influence how we perceive ourself, the objects we buy, what we eat and the places we visit. Booking a restaurant or finding a place to work on your laptop can be decided by how instagramable the surroundings are. Does this then alter our taste, do we end up liking things because of gradual unconscious absorption? Peonies, avocados or a Cult Gaia handbag. Repetition creates desire. A  way of marketing products and communicating brand identity. It’s all about how we connect with ourselves, others and objects. 

Dea’s connection to people is not only conceptual is also evident in the work she is doing for a medical company in Denmark, who create pressure ulcer prevention and sensory integration products. Dea has been appointed to develop new products with textiles, from concept to final product outcome for people with who have autism, anxiety, neurological dysfunctions, dementia or are immobile. 

Dea Marcela in her studio
The knowledge that you get when you cross over and work with others like I have including, a bio chemist, the agriculture industry, and a physiotherapist is key. It’s about highlighting that we have to do these collaborations together, opening your mind and opening a way for perception and knowledge sharing to create a better way of working. From a design perspective and aesthetic perspective too as it all merges. The most important thing is that we need to do these interdisciplinary cross discipline collaborations and not be afraid to stand out for doing so.
— Dea Marcela in conversation with Jodi Muter-Hamilton

Recently Dea has partnered with Ronni AAkermann to produce Hemp Bio Leather. This innovative textile has been selected as a top 20 concept for Plug and Play–Fashion for Good, which is a 12 week startup accelerator based in Amsterdam focused on social and environmental impact within the fashion industry. Ideas are pitched in front of an impressive industry crowd including H&M, Kering, C&A Foundation, Ikea and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. 

Irene Marie-Seelig - our episode 4 podcast guest - was also selected to join the Plug and Play–Fashion for Good accelerator. 

We want to be the most sustainable alternative to the animal and synthetic leather industry. Succeeding this, is to work towards a restorative and regenerative future, where every step of the material genesis and creation is taken into a holistic account.
— Dea Marcela & Ronni AAkermann Co-Founders, Hemp Bio Leather
Hemp Bio Leather, A Circular System

Hemp Bio Leather, A Circular System

Hemp Bio Leather is 4 times faster growing, has no need for chemicals, pesticides or herbicides during cultivation. Production takes 10 steps compared to that of around 50 with traditional leather. The project - which is now a business - has had recent investment which is enabling Dea and Ronni to choose right partners to accelerate development and make prototype samples ready for customers to test.

It’s great to see that Dea’s work is gaining recognition. Hemp Bio Leather won EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Denmark, south region and was selected as finalists for Green Product Award Concept category.

I feel this is just the start for Dea and her many products that ‘enhances our well being that takes us to the next stage’. She approaches her projects and life with an open heart and sense of wonderment. And what’s more it’s rubs off on you. 


images courtesy of dea marcela, except for ikigia venn diagram created by black neon digital

CHARLOTTE INSTONE - know the origin

CHARLOTTE INSTONE - know the origin

TAMARA CINCIK - fashion roundtable

TAMARA CINCIK - fashion roundtable