Nienke Hoogvliet

The last couple of years we have seen more and more from Nienke Hoogvliet at the Dutch Design Week. Studio Nienke Hoogvliet is a design studio for material research, experimental- and conceptual design. Nienke works as a freelance designer for different companies and institutions but also continues her research in self-initiated design projects.

Nienke founded her studio in 2013, after graduating from Lifestyle & Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam. She was determined to follow her heart: focussing on materials that can contribute to a more sustainable world. Growing up near the beach, her connection to the ocean was the foundation of her research into seaweed and fish skin.

Now studio Nienke Hoogvliet has harnessed a method of transforming wastewater into bioplastic and has used it to create a sustainable cremation urn. The Delft-based studio took advantage of a method developed by the Dutch Water Authorities to create the Mourn urns, which it presented during Dutch Design Week. They are made from polyhydroxyalkanoate, or PHA, a bioplastic that can be produced from bacteria found in sewage water. It has similar properties to regular plastic, but biodegrades at a similar rate to wood.

Nienke Hoogvliet’s Waterschatten furniture and homeware is made from reclaimed and recycled toilet paper. Shown at Dutch Design Week, the collection includes a large dining table, a set of pendant lights and a range of bowls – all designed as a way of combating any negative associations the material might have. Hoogvliet combined the reclaimed and cleaned paper with brass elements to show that, despite coming from the sewer, the pulp has “great value”.

Sea me – furniture
Nienke Hoogvliet used seaweed to create a furniture collection that highlights its possibilities as a material. The Sea Me collection features a seat made from fabric that has been woven by hand using seaweed yarn, among other items dyed or finished with the algae. It has similar properties to that of viscose – a compound used in synthetic textiles – but with much softer fibres. Hoogvliet also used seaweed to dye the fabric, with different types creating different colours.

Sea Me – rug
This rug by Nienke Hoogvliet is woven using yarn made from algae harvested from the sea. To draw attention to this raw material, Nienke knotted the algae yarn around an old fishing net to form a floor covering called Sea Me. The yarn is created using cellulose extracted from kelp, a large seaweed that is one of the biggest types of algae. The kelp is harvested in South Africa and purchased from a specialist supplier.

Parts of the text and photographs from Nienke Hoogvliet and Dezeen.