Bianca Streich : « I developed a technique to capture candle soot”
Bianca Streich is a Berlin-based designer known for her innovative work in biodesign using sustainable materials. With a background in Industrial and Communication Design and a master’s degree in New Materials from Barcelona, Bianca’s journey from frustration during her bachelor’s studies to discovering a passion for materiality is highlighted. Her master’s project, “Chasing the Invisible”, demonstrates her commitment to sustainability and conceptual design by using candle soot to address indoor air pollution, merging art with environmental awareness.
Your transition into bio design and biomaterials is quite interesting. How did that come about?
During my bachelor studies I got to a point where I was quite frustrated, I felt stuck, unsatisfied and unsure how to proceed. Then in 2018, during my exchange studies abroad I had the fortune to experience new approaches and ways of thinking about design. Those months fundamentally changed my praxis and process of creation. It was also the time where I really fell in love with materiality in itself. It was also the time where I really fell in love with materiality in itself.
Returning to Berlin, I was able to shape my path of studies between environmental communication and material research. I have had the pleasure of collaborating with scientists, working in a professional laboratory as well as hacking equipment to fit my needs in a community run bio-lab.
My approach is much more conceptual than just bio design.Bianca Streich
I work with a whole array of matter, always with sustainability in mind. I am most interested in ways to initiate behavioural change, not by demanding but by providing food for thought. My intent is to convey stories through the materials and protesting consumer behaviour…
Can you describe your project with candle soot,”Chasing the Invisible” ?
Chasing the Invisible is the final project of my master studies. During that time, and still up to this day, I am obsessed with making the unnoticed tangible.
The project talks about indoor air pollution of candles, or grasping the topic more widely – the connection between our own intricate behaviours and the pollution we cause. To make this link visible, I developed a technique to capture the candle soot on a transfer medium and imprint it on various materials, like paper or silk.
Chasing the Invisible comes in three parts: Firstly the journal of capturing smoke that is giving visibility to the invisible, documenting the smoke experiments chronologically and by applied technique. Secondly, the toolkit and manual to capture smoke, providing all the information, tools and techniques to reproduce the candle soot experiments. Making the pollution experienceable and providing background knowledge. And lastly, the silk smoke scarves with imprinted pollution patterns.
Those scarves are presented in an editorial shoot along with rhetorical remarks such as: “How toxic are you?” or “The smoke scarf is your toxicological must-have.”
An information sheet about indoor air pollution caused by the burning of paraffin candles provides the wearer with additional information, intended as a conversation starter and to pass on knowledge.
Have you collaborated with fashion brands, or do you plan to commercialize your fabrics?
Well, in general I am always open and very enthusiastic about collaborations! I think that is the way to go about projects in general. I’ve not yet collaborated with fashion brands but if our values match, I’m super eager to!
However, Chasing the Invisible is not intended to be commercialised as the creation of the fabric is creating pollutants. Thus the project is a purposeful contradiction in itself without the intent to be produced nor sold. The only imaginable distribution I would see is a very limited and high priced edition with all profits going towards climate relief funds and carbon capture.
What other projects are you involved in ?
I tend to move quite freely in between design disciplines, from photography to graphic, interior and industrial design. Nevertheless, my love affair is with materials and design research, linking art and sciences. I am also teaching about materials and activism. Just last week I hosted a workshop in Paris at the limit/nolimit conference.
I have not yet undertaken a fashion project, but surely it would be a pleasure to do so. Anyone who’s interested in collaborating, feel free to reach out, I have a thousand ideas in my head already spinning !
Photos : Bianca Streich