Fabio Hendry and Martijn Rigters met in London at the Royal College of Art, while taking the Design Products Programme. As part of the programme, the duo started their project The Colour of Hair, an initiative that uses hair for sustainable surface treatments and decorations.
Hendry and Rigters started to collect hair from local hair salons and barbers, and repurposed the otherwise deemed debris in their innovative printmaking process. Interestingly, this creative duo doesn’t just use hair as it comes off a head, instead, they have invented a process in which the real star of the show is the residue that hair leaves behind. Due to the physical makeup of hair, it carbonises at once when put on a heated metal surface, leaving burn marks which, with a flair for design, can be drafted into gradients, shapes and motifs. In an effort to demonstrate the versatility of their floor and surface panel designs, The Colour of Hair collaborated with UK-based manufacturer Solomon & Wu to build an installation. On the other side of the world, the US-based office furniture provider Steelcase commissioned a series of table tops with various graphic patterns designed to be suitable for repetitive mass production. INFRINGE speaks to the duo about how the idea came to life and what else they’ve got in the works.
How did you get the idea to use hair for creating these textured surfaces? During our time in London we became aware of the enormous number of hairdressers surrounding us. Upon further research we found that hair as a material is purely considered a waste material, with over 500 hairdressers in London alone that “produce” this material on an enormous scale. At the same time, we wanted to start experimenting with the Raku technique – an old Japanese process that creates decoration on pottery. Taking inspiration from old techniques, like Raku, and modern printing techniques, like inkjet and screen printing, we developed a new way to create prints on a range of metals, like aluminium and brass.