• Piñatex, the design development of a new sustainable material

Hijosa, Carmen, 2015, Thesis, Piñatex, the design development of a new sustainable material PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

This is a research project by practice, which firstly develops a new material invention derived from natural fibres extracted from waste pineapple leaves; secondly it articulates the contemporary designer’s role in facilitating sustainable solutions through:
Insights from my own material invention, PiñatexTM, which integrates the materiality of design with the immateriality of concepts and values
Developing a visual model of mapping

I began with these questions:
‘What are the challenges in seeking to make a new and sustainable material from the waste products of pineapple agriculture in the Philippines?’


‘How can a design practice link elements of materiality (artifacts) with immaterial elements (value systems) in order to improve sustainable social and economic development?’
Significant influences have been the work of Papanek1 (2003), Hawken2 (1999) and Abouleish3 (2008) and in particular the ethical business model initiated by McDonough and Braungart in Cradle to Cradle®4 (2002). My own research project is inspired by the Cradle to Cradle® model. It proposes the development of a new material, PiñatexTM which is derived from natural fibres extracted from waste pineapple leaves and could be used in a wide variety of products that are currently fabricated in leather or petroleum-based materials.
The methods have comprised: Contextual reviews; case studies (SEKEM, Cradle to Cradle® and Gawad Kalinga); practical experiments in the field of natural fibres, chemistry, product development, manufacturing and prototyping, leading to an invention and a theoretical model of mapping. In addition, collaboration has taken place across scientific, technological, social, ecological, academic and business fields.
The outcome is a new material based on the synchronicity between the pineapple fibres, polymers, resins and coatings specially formulated. The invention of the new material that I developed as a central part of this research by practice has a patent in the national phase (PCT/GB 2011/000802) and is in the first stages of manufacturing, commercial testing and further design input (Summer 2014).
The contribution to knowledge is firstly the material, PiñatexTM, which exhibits certain key qualities, namely environmentally non-toxic, biodegradable, income-generating potential and marketability. This is alongside its intrinsic qualities as a textile product: aesthetic potential, durability and stability, which will make it suitable for the accessories, interiors and furnishing markets.
The theoretical mapping system Upstream and Downstream forms a secondary contribution.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W200 Design studies > W230 Clothing/Fashion Design > W231 Textile Design
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2015 12:54
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2018 15:45
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1677
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