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Hair rope making with Sanne Visser
Green Salon Collective collaborates with researchers and academic institutions as well as other businesses and organisations that are also working hard to transform the hair and beauty industry for the better.
One such researcher is Sanne Visser from the Centre for Circular Design, part of Chelsea College in London. She is a leading design researcher in the field having had her work exhibited in major institutions worldwide including The Design Museum, Science Gallery Dublin and Musea del Disseny to name a few.
As a material consultant and expert workshop facilitator, Sanne has extensive experience across the design industry having worked with clients such as Nike, Store Projects, Makerversity, Ma-tt-er and more. Sanne has been previously nominated for various awards including the AFFA Award, New Material Awards and H100 Award.
Sanne is our first officially named R&D partner. We are working with her to better understand the limitations as well as innovation opportunities for using human hair waste as a material!. We invited Sanne to tell us more about herself, her work and what she is going to do in collaboration with GSC:
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“My name is Sanne Visser and I am a material researcher, designer and maker with a deep interest and expertise in material innovation, circular design, sustainability and future thinking. In 2016, I successfully graduated with a Master’s degree in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. For the past five years, I have been running my own practice, Studio Sanne Visser, where I’ve continued working on my final year project ‘The New Age of Trichology’. This led me to commencing a research PhD in October 2020 and working part-time as a research assistant and lecturer at Centre for Circular Design at Chelsea College of Arts, University of the Arts London.
So what is ‘The New Age of Trichology’?
The ‘New Age of Trichology’ is an innovative and sustainable design research project where I have developed a way to recycle human hair waste and apply this in material and product design. Through collecting hair waste from local hairdressers in the city of London and collaborating with craftspeople like spinners and rope makers, I have created yarn and rope out of the waste material. This resulted in a series of products including bags, belts, dog leashes and other utilitarian objects.
Over the years I have learned to work with human hair in the same way as any other designer would with plant- or animal-based and synthetic fibres. My focus has been understanding the properties and behaviours of the material through research and by learning new and old crafts skills. By working with the materials directly, I have found that it is high in tensile strength and in oil-absorbency and that it is lightweight, flexible, insulating and compostable.
In my work as a designer, researcher and maker, I love collaborating with others and showcasing my work publicly. I have a strong desire to make a real difference in the world and, with that, a desire to share the possibilities with the world. I know there is a real need for change and I believe I can drive this change through my practice using systems design and material innovation.
My research is centred around rethinking our current waste streams, especially those which are far from being utilised, valued or are hardly even being noticed (despite them being right in front of us). My current PhD research is investigating the potential of protein fibres waste, in specific, human hair, to add value to a circular bio economy through an interdisciplinary and participatory design approach.
In doing so, I am working across the fields of Design, Science as well as Arts and Culture, not only having conversations with people from different industries, but also engaging, interacting and bringing these experts together. This includes scientists, anthropologists, recyclers, artists and also experts from across the hair and beauty industry itself, like hairdressers, trichologists and salon owners. My aims are to find new and innovative ways of utilising this abundant material through mechanical and (green) chemical recycling routes.
GSC x Sanne Visser
The new partnership with Green Salon Collective is a very exciting new adventure. Of course it will add so much to the research I am already doing at CCD but I also believe there are some very exciting opportunities in the near future in terms of growing a more regenerative culture around hair recycling and circularity, especially by working directly with industry partners and academia.
So what’s in the pipeline?
First of all, the wide network of GSC enables me, as a design researcher, to gain more insights directly from the industry which allows me to better understand the barriers to and opportunities for hair recycling. Together with Stephanie from the R&D department, we are setting up some very exciting research opportunities where people from the community (both members and non-members) will be invited to take part in the journey and actively participate. We are currently developing a series of digital and physical events which includelive workshops, seminars, design challenges and more.”
Keep an eye on our social media channels and the website for the latest news from our R&D department. Do you already have an idea, or would you like to contribute to Sanne's research, email email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “R&D GSC x Sanne Visser”.
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Cover photo credit: Gabriela Gesheva