Overgrowth & Green collection
Antonia Ablass is a textile designer exploring the relationship between nature and humans. She has two projects in which she works with microgreens. In one project, the microgreens grow on hand-woven textiles. The second project is a green collection where she uses microgreens as a design element on trousers, jackets and accessories to bring nature onto the human body.
What are microgreens?
As the word suggests, microgreens are small plants. They are harvested at a very early stage of growth. They have become a big trend in healthy and vegan diets. They contain many nutrients that come from the seeds and become accessible to human digestion through biological processes. They also have a very high density of vitamins and minerals due to their compressed size. For example, only 50 grams of microgreens are equivalent to one kilogram of broccoli.¹ (looking at the vitamins)
They are also popular because they are easy and quick to grow. They don't need much space and can be grown all year round. (And) last but not least, they are fresh, delicious and enriching for bread, salads or smoothies.
Different types of microgreens
The best-known microgreen is probably cress. Everyone has grown them on cotton pads as a child. But there are many more varieties. In theory, any vegetable seed can become a microgreen. Well-known varieties are radishes, chickpeas, chia seeds, alfalfa, mung sprouts and so on. (There is a small difference between microgreens and sprouts: sprouts are eaten with the root, and microgreens are cut off).
Since there are many possibilities of what can be turned into a microgreen, there are also many different appearances.
Some are light green, others dark green. The red varieties are particularly worth mentioning: there is red amaranth, beetroot and radish seed, which has a beautiful radiant on the stem from white to pink. The shapes of the leaves differ almost as much as those of the later plants.
And not only the little plants have many different shapes and colours, but also the seeds. They can be super small, but also chickpea-sized (chickpeas;). They can be very light brown or almost dark. Round, flat, egg-shaped and so on.
Designing with microgreens
All these different characteristics make microgreens very interesting for Antonia to design with. She uses the seeds in a very planned way. They are applied to the hand-woven textile in an abstract pattern that gives a landscape-like impression. The grown microgreens form a three-dimensional landscape with different parts that organically form around each other. As she works with the contrasts between humans and nature, the textile is a rhythmic - black-and-white band that is broken by the organic forms of the microgreens. The paradox of this contrast is, that the yarn brings water to the seeds. This leads to a very interesting interrelation between these two components.
In the collection, she works with different textile materials as a metaphor for the contrasts between humans and nature. Therefore, she uses the most diverse materials such as organic cotton and wool. The synthetic materials with a metallic look are leftovers from weavings. She uses different cuts and plays with curves that meander through the garments and appear natural. Sometimes micro-grasses grow on these waves. In this way, Antonia reverses the contrast, from cotton fabric - synthetics to organic cotton-growing microgreens.
The sight of a blazer raises the question of why we make a distinction between humans and nature at all. The model's curly hair looks similarly frizzy to the microgreens and conveys the feeling that we are not separate from nature but part of it. But then the question arises of why we feel and act so far removed from nature.
Although so many themes emerge, the collection remains an experimental work and is only the beginning of exploring the potential of bringing textiles and plants together.
The growing time takes around 10 days. Within this time the seeds need to be humid. As Antonia is still in the research phase on how to use textiles best to bring water to the seeds, the best option might be to spray the seeds.
Microgreens have a shelf life of about three weeks. If they are not eaten, they die. Then they dry and can be removed with a brush.
Then new seeds can be planted and the growing process can begin again.
If there are no microgreens on the clothing, it can usually be worn. Some stains remain from watering the plant, but they become the favourite of the garment.
At the end of the garment's life, all materials Antonia uses can be composted, except for the grey mesh. This is removed and disposed of separately.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Seeds, organic cotton, viscose.
Model: Rieke Stoevesant, Tom Gromann