after perfecting processes of manipulating plant roots into intricate, textile-like patterns, diana scherer explores her work’s potential as an applied material. the amsterdam-based german artist has long experimented with the below-ground plant parts, working with plant biologists at radboud university in nijmegen to better understand root systems. her 2017 series ‘interwoven’ exhibited braids, spirals, and delicate motifs, sparked an interested from the design world and brought attention to the possible applications of plant roots. 

exercises in root system domestication | images © diana scherer

 

 

diana scherer‘s work is born out of a fascination with the manipulation of nature. describing her process to FRAME, the artist explains that she uses molds or templates below ground which feature patterns derived from nature, often including hexagons. after the seeds are planted alongside the buried mold, it may take from to weeks to one month for the work to grow and take shape. once uprooted, the creation is kept alive with watering and can stay intact for one week. while she often leaves the root structure attached to the rock or plant, she might otherwise detach the resulting pattern to create the lace-like textile. at exhibitions, the artist presents her work at three stages — the documented photos, the fresh living works, and the dried pieces. 

diana scherer roots
exercises in root system domestication

 

 

diana scherer predicts that it will be another five years before her root work yields usable textiles. while a potential partnership with TU delft ahead, the designer addresses the main challenge which must be overcome before applying her explorations — the plant root textiles must be much stronger while maintaining their beautiful and lace-like quality. once achieved, the work could be applied in a range of industries, from fashion to architecture. the textile could become a wearable garment, or could be applied as an expressive insulation material. diana scherer continues in her conversation with FRAME: ‘plant roots capture carbon and could be a perfect eco-material. the goal is biofabrication: textiles that grow themselves below ground without using external energy. I find that a really romantic idea.’

diana scherer roots
exercises in root system domestication

diana scherer roots
exercises in root system domestication

diana scherer's intricately patterned roots could be a carbon capturing eco-material
exercises in root system domestication

diana scherer's intricately patterned roots could be a carbon capturing eco-material
exercises in root system domestication

diana scherer's intricately patterned roots could be a carbon capturing eco-material
‘interwoven’ 2021

diana scherer's intricately patterned roots could be a carbon capturing eco-material
‘interwoven’ 2021

diana scherer roots
‘interwoven’ 2021

diana scherer roots
detail 2020

diana scherer roots
detail 2020

diana scherer roots
detail 2020

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