Ninela Ivanova

Research Group: Centre for Research through Design
Award studied: PhD

Project title

The human-mould-fashion relationship: fungi applications for future design scenarios in fashion and textiles fabrication


This practice-based research project examines the role of design in the development of future scenarios for materials innovation. The inquiry takes the form of a case study in the potential applications of fungi as media for fashion and textiles fabrication.

The project is positioned within a contemporary scientific debate about the role of microorganisms in our ecosystem, which argues that people's obsession with eradicating "germs" from the urban environment, is the cause for todays "aches of mankind" (Dunn, 2011). In the light of sustainability, re-engaging with nature [in the sense of fungi] could offer solutions to how we manufacture, consume and recycle (McKenna, 1992).

With the advance of biotechnology, science has explored a variety of fungi applications, such as medicines, in the food and beverages production, and in the form of dyes, flavours and fragrances. Interdisciplinary collaborations, and a growing role for design in product and process innovation, are now beginning to propose novel solutions for fungi materials in broader design contexts. Advancing human perception of fungi appears key to realising the potential of design in material innovation scenarios, resulting in viable fabrication processes and products that will impact many fields, including wellbeing and sustainability.


Related links


Futurescan 2: Collective Voices by the Association of Fashion and Textiles Courses (FTC), Sheffield Hallam University, 2013
‘The Human-Mould-Fashion Relationship: fungi applications for future design scenarios in fashion and textiles fabrication’. The paper has been included in the conference publication.

Cardiff University, 2013
British Mycological Society Main Meeting. Work displayed at the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

London, 2013
Design Environments: Sustainable Materials Innovation IOM3

Kingston University, London, 2013
Design for Body and Material Research Symposium

Geneva, Switzerland, 2013
Geneva University of Art & Design (HEAD)

V&A, London, 2013
The Arts Foundation: A Trans-Disciplinary Approach to Materials Innovation

London & South England Packaging Society, 2013
Young Persons' Lecturing Competition

Northumbria University, Newcastle, 2012
Design PhD Conference, in partnership with Imagination Lancaster

Birmingham City University, 2012
Fashion & Textile UK Research students networking event by the Fashion & Textile Courses Association, BIAD

London, 2012
InCrops Sustainable Luxury Event, Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining

Platform exhibition space, Kingston University, 2012
Reconfigurations: crafting design research, the 1st Design Research Students exhibition

Sofia, Bulgaria, 2012
Sofia Design Week

Sense, the national charity for deafblind people, ‘Sense in Textiles’, research placement funded by SKIP (collaborative skills training programme between the RCA, Kingston University and University of the Arts London for PhD students and Early-Career Researchers in Design Practice)

Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture, Kingston University in collaboration with the ICA, Craftmanship Reconsidered: framing, coding, cutting and unveiling, Colloquium: Conversations in theory & practice, a series of events exploring interdisciplinary themes in doctoral research

Funding received

Faculty of Art, Design & Architecture funding

Moulded Mind