Bio Iridescent Sequin

Within the current fashion and textiles system, the embroidery industry is limited by unsustainable material options and a lack of innovation. Shimmering beads and sequins are industrially made from petroleum plastic or synthetic resins. Their use and disposal impose a huge environmental problem and contribute largely to the micro-plastic issue that planet Earth is currently facing.

Looking into consumer patterns on a mass scale, it is impractical for embroidery to be recycled from its base fabric, consequently, these tiny plastic components are sitting in landfill and entering our environment through various waste streams.

Designer, Elissa Brunato, points out that it is the optimal moment to re-envision the origin of materials that are currently petroleum-derived to initiate a more circular textile economy.

Bio Iridescent Sequin finds an answer in the research of bio-technologies that are capable of harnessing naturally abundant materials, to create shimmering structural colours. Here the wood-originating matter can imitate the alluring visual aesthetics of beetle wings. The material remains lightweight and as strong as plastic, yet it is compostable.

Working alongside Material Scientists Hjalmar Granberg and Tiffany Abitbol from the RISE, Research Institutes of Sweden, Elissa Brunato created sequins for embroidery, that use wood’s ability to form structures that refract light. In this way, it is possible for this Bio Iridescent Sequin to shimmer naturally without added chemicals. It is an entirely new way to approach colour and finishes within the Fashion and Textiles Industry.

Re-imagining the landscape of available materials that we have on this earth can allow for safer and more environmentally sustainable approaches to shimmering colour. These approaches have the potential to outshine the previous options in a way that is more forward thinking and innovative.



In collaboration with RISE - Research Institutes of Sweden

Advisor, Claire Bergkamp Stella McCartney











Elissa Brunato makes bio-iridescent sequins from wood as an alternative to plastic

Next Nature
Elissa Brunato's bio iridescent sequin shimmers with nature

Design Indaba
Material Difference

Creating Plastic-Free Party Dressing

Dezeen's top 10 innovative materials of 2019

Shift London
Sequins: a new age

Material District
Shimmering Sequins of Wood Cellulose

Bio Iridescent Sequin made from trees responds to growing demand for greener fashion

Fast Company
A greener (and sparklier) alternative is here


9th Future Fabrics Expo,
Innovation Hub
The Sustainable Angle
London, UK
29-30 January 2020

Design Lab
Biofabricate Summit
London, UK
5 December 2019

Global Grad Show
Dubai Design Week
Dubai, AE
12-16 November 2019

Designing in Turbulent Times
LVMH + Maison/0, Lethaby Gallery
London, UK
14 September - 27 October 2019

Talking Textiles
New York Textile Month
Parsons School of Design + Lidewij Edelkoort
New York, US
September 2019


Design Indaba Conference
Cape Town, SA
27th February - 1st March 2020

Nature by Design
Making Futures Research Group, Plymouth College of Art
Plymouth, UK
2020 March

‘How to Make’, With Zoe Laughlin
2020 April

KQ LABS Sciences and Design
Crick + LVMH
London, UK
27 November 2019

Bio Colour: An Introduction to Bio Colour
Open Cell
London, UK
18 July 2019

Material Ethics: Tricky Design: Design Ethics for a Complex World
The Design Museum
London, UK
8 June 2019

There and Back Again
Centre for Circular Design
London, UK
5 March 2019