Moved by the overwhelming and destructive effects that abandoned fishing nets, plastics and gear have on marine species around the world, textile designer Carmen Machado has taken the initiative to convert this waste into useful materials with a second life.
The new textiles, which have come from this environmental repurposing, aim to reveal to society the huge benefits that lie in reusing materials which are found on shorelines all over the world, and the advantages of controlling waste abandoned in the sea. Additionally, fishing will no longer suffer the terrible consequences that these materials have on their development when they are ingested by fish and birds.
“Having grown up on the beach in Puerto Rico I spent a lot of time in the water and on the beach (almost daily). I naturally came to respect the ocean and its inhabitants. I moved to Chicago in 2007 to study at the School of the Art Institute and studied weaving and textile design there. Once I finished my Bachelors in Fine Arts I started to think about persuing my Masters in Textile Design. This is when I decided I wanted to combine my interest in marine issues to my textiles”, says Carmen.
The result is a new textile named Debris, made from small squares filled with pieces of wire, plastics and ropes. This new texture is also extremely rigid, waterproof and highly sustainab”, asegura la diseñadora. “Apart from the obvious message, spreading awareness about plastic waste in our oceans and over fishing; I was also interested in creating something beautiful out of waste or trash, giving it a new value and hopefully nudging people to see that the future of design is sustainability and we need to find more ways to reuse the waste that is all around us and plaguing our oceans and all over the planet”, says designer.
This “marine textile”, which entails careful craftsmanship, functions very well for use as outdoor furniture upholstery, as it is incredibly insulating and resistant. An example of this is the Debris chair, a collaboration between the designer and carpenter craftsman Rupert Lees.
“Once I finished my Bachelors in Fine Arts I started to think about persuing my Masters in Textile Design. This is when I decided I wanted to combine my interest in marine issues to my textiles ”.
Debris is not a fabric which can be produced in large quantities given the enormous amount of work it takes to complete each new metre. Nevertheless, Carmen is studying the possibility of creating a small collection of products, not just furniture, using this fabric, and regularly visits the beaches of Great Britain and Puerto Rico to find new materials to work with.
Photos: Carmen Machado
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