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Catalytic Clothing

Catalytic Clothing explores the use of an existing nano technology in an entirely new context, combining the power of science and art to tackle a global challenge. Air pollution is currently expected to reduce the life expectancy of the average UK resident by 7-8 months. Applying an air-purifying photocatalyst to textiles and clothing presents the possibility that each of us can actively contribute to improving the quality of the air we breathe as we go about our daily lives. The efficacy of the technology is only apparent when mass adoption is achieved and so Catalytic Clothing uses art and design to inspire the citizen action that is needed to realise the potential that science offers.

Catalytic Clothing was conceived by artist/designer Helen Storey and chemist Tony Ryan – people from very different disciplines whose shared values and inquisitive minds have come together to create a number of highly acclaimed art/science collaborations.

Catalytic Clothing is a partnership between UAL and The University of Sheffield; the success of the project to date has been thanks to the support of a number of key partners including Ecover and Cristal.


2010 - Herself

Images by Trish Belford

Helen Storey designs and creates the pioneering catalytic dress Herself in collaboration with Trish Belford of the University of Ulster

Herself tours the world raising the profile of the Catalytic Clothing project and introducing city dwellers worldwide to the notion that clothing and textiles can play a vital role in improving the urban environment and the health of those who live in it.


2011 - Field of Jeans

Image by Caroline Coates

Image by Jon Daughtry

The first in a series of art installations takes place in Newcastle targeting public engagement and debate. Jeans are chosen both for symbolic reasons due to their ubiquitous role in urban attire and for practical reasons because the technology proves to be particularly effective when applied to indigo denim.

During 2011 and 2012 The field of Jeans pops up in Sheffield, London, Durham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Copenhagen extending the debate across the UK and into Europe.


2011 - The Film

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The Catalytic Clothing Film directed by Adam Mufti and featuring Erin O’Connor is released online, kicking off an immensely successful and far reaching viral campaign. The film is downloaded in 75 different countries within the first two days of it’s release and the campaign reaches over 173 million people worldwide.


2012 - Living Map

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Helen Storey donates two key pieces from her archive to join the catalytic clothing family. During 2012 the Red Planet dresses, Herself and the Field of Jeans tour the world appearing everywhere from science festivals to art galleries. Catalytic Clothing Scoops the Condé Nast Traveller Innovation & Design Award. The Catalytic Clothing film continues to reach far and wide and an interactive digital map known as the Living Map, is created to chart the progress of the campaign across the globe. The huge media impact attracts interest and investment from a variety of parties and Catalytic Clothing is currently with the research and development departments of major laundry brands.