Rootfull proposes a collaboration with nature to grow structured material using the weaving and binding properties of root. The fashion industry produces 10% of humanity’s carbon emissions and creates a huge amount of pollution in the process of making textiles. By contrast this project imagines the alternatives and grows material from root. It takes the maker on a wonderful journey to design and grow individual root textiles without harming the planet.
Rootfull has been developed by London-based artist and underwater photographer, Zena Holloway. Her photographic practice focusses on imagery that connects people to oceans, rivers and lakes.
Whilst roots nourish and sustain plants and trees on land, coral reefs do the same for the oceans. They provide an ecosystem that supports a quarter of all marine life. Thus it seems appropriate to engage biomimicry to grow roots into coral patterns and textures. The aim is to champion ocean conservation and raise awareness about bleaching events that are predicted to virtually wipe out all coral over the next 30 years.
The process of growing root textile is surprisingly quick. The tiny wheatgrass seed contains all the nutrients the plant will need for the first 14 days of life so it can be grown with or without soil. Wheat seed is widely available worldwide and given the right temperature and the right amounts of water, a wheat seed will flourish and grow roots up to 20cm in length in just 2 weeks. Water run-off is captured and reused so water consumption is kept to a minimum. There are no pollutants during the process and all the ingredients, as well as the end product, are 100% natural and compostable.
The roots of the wheatgrass plant can be grown vertically or horizontally and will follow the form of the templates they grow into. They can be forced into small spaces so they become flat and compact or encouraged to grow more deeply to create 3D shapes. When freshly harvested the roots are heavy and damp. After 24 hours they dry out to become featherweight and stiff enough to support their own weight.
The project was begun in 2018, launched in 2021 and continues to develop.
Text submitted by the maker
Water, wheat seed.
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab