H.E.R.B.S. Installation: Dutch designer Nienke Hoogvliet investigates if herbs have a medicinal effect when used as a textile dye

The H.E.R.B.S. Project, an initiative by Dutch designer Nienke Hoogvliet, investigates if herbs, when used as a textile dye, can have the medicinal properties they are renowned for when worn on skin.

The textile industry has a huge impact on nature and the workers in the industry, because of all the chemicals that are used in production processes. Nienke Hoogvliet started to wonder if these substances are still present in the textiles when we eventually use them.

In a research study, Nienke Hoogvliet discovered that many textiles still contain harmful chemicals and that they can cause a variety disorders and diseases. Driven to raise awareness about this by showing a solution – and not only the problem – she started the H.E.R.B.S. project.

Nienke Hoogvliet asked: “Can textiles also release substances that can be beneficial to our health and skin? Herbs are known for their medicinal effects; would they still have this effect when they are used as a textile dye?”

The designer dyed textile samples using herbs like rosemary, sage and chamomile. This was later tested in a laboratory, where it was proven that essential oils can be transferred to textile through the dyeing process. Since literally, every body reacts differently, it is hard to say how the dyes will contribute to human health in general.

To illustrate this, Nienke Hoogvliet devised The H.E.R.B.S. Installation where participants were able to test the theory. After a ‘discarded’ tee shirt is dyed with the herbal dye of your choice, particpants were invited to take it home and wear the shirt to experience the possible beneficial effects, with the aim of changing people’s perspective on the clothes they wear.

Studio Nienke Hoogvliet

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living. She also offers content services to businesses and individuals at Rosamedea.com

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