Image: Martens ​​​​​​​ & Visser, Steam Project
Natural dyes are making a comeback. By combining traditional techniques with modern technology, textile designers are crafting a colourful new world
Originally published in  Matters Journal/ Issue 3. ​​​​​​​

Colour and materials consultant Laura Perryman, who curated the 2018 Colour Via exhibition at London Design Festival, says there is a revolution occurring in our colours.
“A new wave of designers are actively challenging the way that colour has been historically applied,” says Perryman, who founded the London-based experiential colour design agency Colour of Saying. She says these new designers are “creating new approaches and outcomes that are not only challenging waste but even the nature of the colour itself, how it behaves, and fundamentally how it can transform an object or textile”.

Embracing these new pigments requires an understanding that, without the use of treatments or fixing agents, colours can fade naturally. As Perryman suggests, “This shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a bad thing! For instance, garments could be dyed in seasonal colours. 
Darker, more saturated shades in fall and winter that fade to brighter, softer colours in spring and summer.” Faded colour, she points out, “is perfectly acceptable in denim”. She says textile researchers and fashion designers—like Cowlishaw and Parker—are working to “establish a new mindset, one that emphasises customisation and care”.
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