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Biomimicry + Fibershed
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Biomimicry + Fibershed

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Natural materials are on my mind all the time. I learned to love nature from my father, a city kid who loved to camp. I grew up in a Northern California suburb that was once called the "Valley of Heart's Delight" that was quickly lost with the emergence of Silicon Valley.

OSA Special Collections & Archive

The way nature works is one of my biggest interests and inspirations, and what I am working on now to integrate in our designs by 2019.

Biomimicry is the study of how we can mimic nature to solve problems from agriculture to city planning. Janine Benyus is the co-founder of the Biomimicry Institute and author of Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature. Her quote below illustrates the extent of what is possible through the study of nature.

After decades of faithful study, ecologists have begun to fathom hidden likenesses among many interwoven systems. ...a canon of nature's laws, strategies, and principles...
Nature runs on sunlight. 
Nature uses only the energy it needs. 
Nature fits form to function. 
Nature recycles everything. 
Nature rewards cooperation. 
Nature banks on diversity.
Nature demands local expertise.
Nature curbs excesses from within.
Nature taps the power of limits
In addition to biomimicry, we focus on sourcing natural materials and building partnerships that support a natural process from “fiber to finished good" which is the mission of an organization called Fibershed.

Fibershed gives us the rare opportunity to source from a network of local suppliers from a specific region. Fibersheds include a “community of member farmers, ranchers, designers, sewers, weavers, knitters, felters, spinners, and textile mill owners.” 

I love this illustration by Amanda Coen that was commissioned by Fibershed. It captures the cycle of the farm to fashion process. It is a great reminder that each step is vitally important and a change-making investment. 

 From the portfolio of Amanda Coen

As an example of the regional divisions, the Northern California fibershed includes producers from San Luis Obispo to the Oregon border. For all you passionate travelers thinking about your next road trip, imagine visiting the local artisans and experts in these places and learning about the unique characteristics of that land and the different animals, plants, and natural fibers that are produced within that local community. Amazing. 

By exploring how to design by nature and how to source through a regional supply chain, we are also able to invest in the local economy. Right now, I am working with Stephen Meyer of Pergamena and talking with Laura Sansone of the Textile Lab Fibershed, which is the producing region within a 300-mile radius of NYC.

Pergamena Leather, NY

Thanks to the leaders of these amazing organizations, we can take pride in our choices and begin to see the impact and importance of slow fashion and the artisans who help to make it happen in the United States and around the world. 

Have a great week!

Kathleen