Alice Potts: Material Innovator
Alice Potts believes that sustainability is psychological and the combination of biology and technology. Alice aims to tackle sustainability with fascination and aims to captivate peoples imagination through her work in order to provide education on the relationship between our bodies and the environment.
Alice's work uses collaboration with scientists as a vital tool to develop cutting edge biomaterials that can enhance our bodies and the environment whilst bridging the gap between sustainable biomaterials and garments that people will wear. Alice is creating a pathway towards a sustainable system that will offer our future transparency, innovation and a relationship that benefits health of both people and planet.
We had a conversation with Alice to learn a little more about her journey developing bio materials:
Your work has a beautiful outcome combined with an even more captivating story. What was it that brought you towards developing biomaterials with science and nature?
"It was never a path I knew I was going to end up with but an outlook on life that brought me there. I have always been fascinated in how the world and our bodies work but being a designer I used to always use it as inspiration rather than really using nature itself. I came across Biomaterials during my MA at RCA where another course was taking part in the Biodesign challenge. From there I met Helena Stiener owner of Open Cell in London who helped me and introduced me to the world of science and design. Then from there everything just clicked. Nature has had thousands of years to design itself so why replicate the perfect design when we can use it?"
How did you discover that you could create crystals from sweat? Could you tell us about the process behind it?
"Sweat crystallization came from my background in both science and sport. As a junior athlete I always learnt the importance of looking after our bodies through recovery but also how to understand signs that our bodies are telling us. I always used to notice "Salt stains" on our clothes after a workout and I really wanted to see if there was a way to further grow them. I took years of work and many failures but I became obsessed. To create something so pure of who we are, to me nothing could capture a purer version of a person then there sweat."
Do you believe that clothing textiles and nature can work hand in hand to enhance our environment?
"I fully believe that clothing textiles and nature can work hand in hand to enhance our environment. I've now begun working as a biomaterial designer for a company Modern Synthesis who are at the front of beginning to bring biomaterials into the fashion system. What always reassures me that all this can happen is that we have to remember where all this originated. Before technology and mass machinery came to the world we still had clothes, homes and products. Now we have more advanced science and design so we need to learn from our past and apply this with these advances to create a better impact on the world.
What direction do you see biomaterials going? Do you think it could replace conventional materials in the future?
"I'm extremely hopeful but there are already so many leading brands out there that have been working over the last 10 years on materials. Companies like PINATEX, Bolt threads, Modern Meadows are all examples that even if it's still a few years out there is definitely a place for biomaterials in the market."
What are the current hurdles standing in the way of biomaterials being mainstream?
"The biggest hurdles are cost and scalability but also the education to people. We as a biomaterial community need to educate people what biomaterials are to help consumers understand these materials and the importance of them. This means developing a language that anyone from any background can understand. Cost and scalability are also the biggest issue as to meet the demands needed mainstream for a lower cost than synthetic man-made is the biggest challenge."
Where do you want to take work and materials in the future?
"I want them to be accessible to everyone but to also encourage people to undertake biomaterial based studies. I had once in an interview ask me how i feel about maybe being the person who starts something off rather then becomes the one known for it and I'm happy this way. If i gave the courage to people in the fashion system to be different and experiment I'm happy."
Discover more of Alice Pott's work here