"I'm looking at how we might make materials such as leather in a new way," she explains in the movie. "Rather than killing an animal you'd take cells, expand them in the lab and use that to produce your [material]."
"But you could also think about what kind of new material hybrids could we produce. Could you grow new materials that we can't get from nature?"The collection includes a broach made from cells that the wearer might choose to graft onto their skin as well as a hybrid necklace grown out of a mixture of different animal scales and leather. "I was thinking about the different hybrids we might be able to create in the lab," Congden says.Congdon believes such materials could come to market "in the next ten to fifteen years".
She is currently collaborating with scientists at King's College London to explore how tissue engineering – a field of research exploring how replacement tissues or organs in animals and humans can be grown artificially – could enable her vision to become reality.Developments in tissue engineering could also lead to materials being produced more sustainably.
"With any material you can grow it to the shape you need and then you don't have the waste," Congdon says. "We really need to acknowledge that we are living on just one planet, so we have finite resources. So we really need to think about new ways that we might produce materials and products."