A major breakthrough was discovering that it was possible to make materials from the fast-reproducing organism called algae.
Working with an algae polymer with properties similar to petroleum-derived and environmentally friendly plastic, Quinn worked on the development of a non-toxic, water-resistant and biodegradable fabric, incorporating natural dyes before spinning the yarn to reduce water use and production. -related toxicity. “Every time I look at a new material, there’s no waste in my eyes, I just think, what are all the different waste streams that are produced and how can they be incorporated back into the process?”
Another unlikely rediscovery and material reconsideration was flax – the stem of the plant, the bast fiber that has been used to make hypoallergenic, moisture-resistant, breathable linen for over 30,000 years. “Linen was once a massive industry in Ireland [Quinn grew up in Belfast], but it’s only really used to make flax. And the special qualities of linen – its tendency to wrinkle and dull – limit its use in the fashion industry. Quinn sees only the positives – that flax is biodegradable and breaks down in just weeks when buried in the ground. At CQ Studio, using a combination of traditional artisan techniques and modern, innovative processes, a length of linen can be used to make eco-friendly faux leather and fur.
“Biomaterials (like flax fibers) are very important because they are non-invasive to our planet and the environment,” Quinn says. “I think sometimes we forget that a polyester t-shirt is basically suffocating our Earth. And when we’re working with biodegradable materials, that means we don’t have [such] a negative impact on the planet.