In Conversation: Kat Reeder


ABOVE + HEADER IMAGE: This pigment was produced by bacteria Serratia Marcescens grown on agar, which yields pink and red hues when dyeing fabric — in this case silk charmeuse. Considering that the textile dyeing industry has consistently been one of the top global water polluters, it is necessary to find innovative solutions to the problems facing the industry.

MYCRO: Why and how did you start working
with textiles?

KAT: I started working with textiles at a young age — my grandmother was a seamstress so I learned a lot from watching her. Eventually I decided I wanted to pursue a degree in apparel design and throughout that program I started to focus more specifically on textiles and fibers.

You’ve worked with algae, bacteria and now mycelium. How did such unusual media weave
their way into your textile design practice? 

I have always been passionate about sustainability in fashion and I knew that if I was going to enter that industry I wanted to be a part of changing it. I have also always been fascinated by the natural world and wanted to create connections between myself and the organisms around me. Eventually I started to
do research and experiments in the realm of biofabrication.
I found that this is where the most groundbreaking innovation was happening. I wanted to see how I could incorporate microorganisms into my own designs.

Are you eyeing new microbes to potentially work
with in the future?

Yes! I actually just received cultures of Chlorociboria aeruginascens aka Green Elfcup fungus. This species has been known to stain wood a blueish green tint, which has been used by woodworkers to create decorative inlays for centuries. I’m excited to experiment and see how the pigment created by this fungus could be used in textile applications.

Grown using Ecovative’s AirMycelium™ process, Forager’s foam is a high-performance, pure mycelium foam that can be tailored to a variety of needs for multiple industries and product applications

Who inspires you?

Two of my biggest design inspirations are Iris Van Herpen and Neri Oxman. They are both so skilled at bringing together different disciplines to create stunning designs. I believe that design is strongest when it is multidisciplinary and collaborative.

I am also inspired by all of the emerging designers and students who are taking an interest in biotechnology and sustainable design. It gives me hope for a better future. 

In three words what are microbes to you? 

Either “Wealth of diversity” or “Nature’s hidden potential”

ABOVE: Laser cut wool — the design is inspired by Radiolaria (microscopic Protozoa with intricate mineral skeletons)

RIGHT TOP: Laser cut mycelium leather dress with a design inspired by Radiolaria

RIGHT BOTTOM: Patchwork mycelium leather guitar strap