Estonian designers showcased the materials of the future in Venice!

Estonian material designers surprised Venice with products made from algae, mycelium, and bacterial cellulose. The exhibition of Estonian material design, "MATERIAL II," took place at the Venice Design Biennale from the 11th to the 18th of June. This is the third time that Estonian design has been represented in the twilight zone of cultures, parallel to the Architecture Biennale. The Venice Design Biennale was created in 2016 to promote design culture and develop an international network of designers.

The exhibition, "Material II," a collaboration between the Estonian Designers' Association (EDL) and the Estonian Academy of Arts (EKA), brings together innovative materials and technologies developed by researchers, companies, and designers. With 26 exhibits, the exhibition reveals how the meaning of resources and material creation is changing in the environmental crisis.

"In the face of the climate crisis, the textile and fashion industry needs to turn to more sustainable processes, making use of waste streams and focusing on more environmentally friendly organic materials. Conventional production involving toxic substances and huge amounts of waste, which take thousands of years to decompose and pollute the environment, is no longer acceptable," says Reet Aus, a fashion designer, environmental activist, and holder of a PhD in fashion design.

Across disciplines, the authors explore how utility materials could be used in the future, what we can learn from heritage technologies and natural resources, how to harness the potential of biotechnology, and what advanced materials are being developed at the nano-scale. The exhibition features products made from algae, mycelium, bacterial cellulose, shredded denim, and even smoke cones.

The exhibition is curated by material designers from Stuudio Aine: Kärt Ojavee, Annika Kaldoja, and Marie Vihmar, with design by Annika Kaldoja and visuals by Mirjam Reili.

Furthermore, researchers from our Sustainable Design and Materials Laboratory, Kärt Ojavee and Reet Aus, along with EKA professor Juss Heinsalu, delivered lectures during the Venice Design Biennale. EKA lecturer Marta Konovalov led a textile mending workshop, and designer Riina Õun conducted a workshop on bioplastics. Additionally, there was a video showcase demonstrating how Reet Aus's products are made at the Beximco factory in Bangladesh.

Participants: Reet Aus, Airi Gailit, Erik Heiki Veelmaa, Juss Heinsalu, Geidi Hein, Annika Kaldoja, Astri Kaljus, Katrin Kabun, Madis Kaasik, Siim Karro, Katarina Kruus, Karl Kukk, Marta Konovalov, Karolin Kärm, Merlin Meremaa, Juulia Aleksandra Mikson, Erki Nagla, Kärt Ojavee, Cärol Ott, Riina Õun, Maria Kristiin Peterson, Sander Õun /Suckõrs, Tiia Plamus, Sirje Sasi, Indrė Spitrytė, Oksana Teder, Marie Vihmar, Ines-Issa Villido.

The exhibition project was supported by the Kultuurkapital, Erasmus+.