Workshop with Tjeerd Veenhoven, 1.4.2017 – 25.11.2019

Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven is a Dutch product design studio with a focus on material development. ‘We invent materials, develop new applications, design products and enable sustainable business’.

In an open lecture at the material library, Tjeerd Veenhoven introduced us to his work. Exploring the potential of underestimated, existing resources plays an important role in the studio‘s work: ‘Our aim is to seek opportunities where they are missed’. In this way Tjeerd turned palm leafs into leather and extracted colour pigments from left over tulip heads. The upgrade of natural material is also the main issue of his latest project ‘Algae Fabrics‘. Tjeerd is eager to transform algae into a sustainable fabric, giving algae a place in the textile industry.

‘While many materials […] leave some kind of environmental footprint, algae doesn’t. It doesn’t require freshwater or land to grow.’

Our experimental workshop with the raw material of seaweed starts with an introduction on algae concerning their fields of use: energy generation, fuel production, cosmetic treatment, nutrition supplements and medicine application. The diversity of algae is also reflected in the variety of kinds. For our single-day workshop we deal with three specific kinds of macro algae – Laminaria digitata (oar weed), Fucus Serratus (toothed wrack) or Ascophyllum nodosum (knotted kelp). Divided into three groups, we try to find out as much as possible about ‘our’ algae. To bring the short research phase to a close, we present our results to the other groups. Characteristics like length, growth cycle, occurrence, special qualities and harvesting methods as well as scope of application and examples of use – with all the collected information we continue to work.

How could we utilize those properties? Transferring algae specific characteristics on a scope of our daily life is the following task. We begin the free ideation. Tjeerd joins the groups every now and then to share his thoughts and ideas.

Finally we bring down our ideas to a single concept. Hands-on experiments help us to define the idea and to verify our thesis. In regard to a final presentation, we prepare material examples, illustrate our concept and describe the scenario.

In the end of the day three concepts are presented:
‘Grisu – Fire protection by Algae‘ (Andreas, Luis, Mark)
‘Laminaria umbrella – humidity adaptable fabric’ (Dorothea, Ina, Iro, Yi)
‘Kinetic algae’ (Ida, Melanie, Ulrike)

Special Thanks to Tjeerd Veenhoven for giving us an insight into his work and working with us hands-on!

Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven