Fabric That Works Just Like a Pine Cone

A textile developed in Britain has pores that open when it’s wet, and sheaves that close up when it’s dry.

Pine cone

We all hate wet clothes, but why are they so uncomfortable? A materials engineer would tell you: Not only is your skin getting wet, but the function of the material breaks down when it’s soaked, because the wet fibers plump up with water. Porosity goes down, and thus, a really wet jacket takes exponentially longer to dry than a merely damp one–and it feels gross on your skin.


Dr. Veronika Kapsali, the founder of MMT and an expert on bio-mimetic fabrics, thinks she found a solution that’s inspired by pine cones, which only open when the air is dry. (Pine cones do that because its easier for seeds to spread and germinate when its dry.) Unlike regular fabrics, Kapsali’s invention becomes more porous when it’s wet out, so that clothes might not feel as damp. When it’s dry, the tiny sheaves in the fabric open up, reducing how permeable it is to air and improving the insulating properties.

Kapsali founded her company just this year, and is currently panning for investors and corporate partners to make her invention commercially available.


[Innovation in Textiles via Discovery News; image by xmoto3]

Biomimicry: Nature-Inspired Designs

About the author

Cliff was director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.