Design finalists show seaweed fashion to Big Apple | UniSC | University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Design finalists show seaweed fashion to Big Apple

A recyclable seaweed fabric to fight fashion waste and a vertical plant growth kit that texts its owner to top up water will put UniSC Design students on the global stage this week.

The proposed seaweed clothing business and the aeroponics plant kit, created by two teams of Design Futures students, have been selected as finalists for the Biodesign Challenge Summit in New York City on 22-23 June.

The annual summit will include 500 students from 15 countries competing for prizes and exhibiting at the NYC Museum of Modern Art, either attending in-person or participating online.

“The University of the Sunshine Coast is the only university in Queensland to have a team in the finals, let alone two,” said Dr Leah Barclay, whose course encourages students to use physical and digital design principles to solve real-world challenges of the future.

“Biodesign is essentially design inspired by the environment and natural processes. This is an incredible opportunity for students to collaborate on solving a global problem and to think deeply about the impact they can have through design.”

'This is an incredible opportunity for students to collaborate on solving a global problem and to think deeply about the impact they can have through design'

Representatives of the UniSC teams will present their two concepts online:

‘That’s So Ethical’. Aim: To change not only your wardrobe but our planet.

“We created this company concept to combat fast fashion and over-consumption in a sustainable and creative way,” said student Kirsten Evans, who collaborated with Grace Erickson and Marcia Grimm.

“Fashion waste is responsible for more annual carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.

“We decided to use seaweed to create a filament or fibre that can be manufactured into clothing that can also be regenerated into new, customised clothing.

“Seaweed growth is cultivated across the planet, removing more and more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

“At the end of an item’s life cycle, the seaweed fibre can be recycled for use in biofuel production or soil erosion control.”

‘Vaero’ – Vertical Aeroponic farming kit. Aim: To help the environment by helping people to enjoy growing plants.

“We’ve built a prototype of an interactive, stackable farming kit that can be easily assembled at home,” said student Lhea Hermosa, who collaborated with Kacey Lewis-Driver, Maddison Simpson, Melissa Hartwell and Kimberley Berkendoff.

“Vertical farming is a way to grow plants without soil – using less water, resources and pesticides – and the Vaero kit aims to tackle people’s ecological disconnection with nature as well as wider problems such as food supply and air quality.

“The kit comes with a virtual personality system, sensors and an app to help people navigate the condition and growth of vegetables such as lettuce, kale and spinach.

“It sends notifications when the plant’s needs are not met. For example, if a weight sensor reaches the lowest measurement, the kit texts the owner to refill the water.

“The screen interface acts as a literal face – showing smiles and glowing rainbow colours when the plant is growing happily under optimal conditions; and showing frowns and blue when two or more sensors record unsuitable measurements.

“We want people to grow and care for plants in an enjoyable way at home. It’s especially for people like me who don’t really know how to grow veges – I have a cactus!”

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