Future Human Visionaries #8 — Rebecca Earley on the use of synthetic biology in textiles
Welcome to Visionaries, a podcast dedicated to futurological thinkers brought to you by Future Human and the V&A. We seek out people who are reimagining innovation in their field and ask them to apply their intelligence to emerging trends. Rebecca Earley is the head of the Textile Futures Research Centre (TFRC) at the University of the Arts London. The TFRC analyses how clothing can enhance personal wellbeing and lifestyle, conducting collaborative research projects with textiles designers, fashion entrepreneurs and scientists. Earley’s own work focuses on the environmental footprint of textile production, and how emerging technologies and production techniques can affect this. She describes how synthetic biology will transform the textiles and materials used to manufacture clothes and apparel. Potential applications include wearable devices that release fragrances or pharmaceuticals to enhance our mood, leather that naturally moulds itself to the contours of our feet, and ‘distributed manufacturing’ that sees complex sequins and embroidery produced cheaply by 3D printers. But will scientific breakthroughs really reduce the environmental impact of mass fashion consumerism? And are visions of clothes technology improving our health overstated? Presented by Ben Beaumont-Thomas.
Duration: 13 min