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Natural Fibres Labs

“The natural environment sustains the life of all beings universally.’” - Dalai Lama


Janak Mistry, Design Principal

Natural fibers has traditionally been associated with the crafts sector and small-scale production using hands or hand tools. However, in recent times there has been many examples of this resource, which is often mistaken as waste, being used as an alternative to industrial metals and plastics. Examples of this are the Areca sheath plates that have replaced plastic and paper plates, Mushroom mycelium that has replaced thermocol in packaging, Bamboo floorboards and many other such examples.

Historically, just like how plastics have been accepted as a material option for products that were traditionally made of metal would it be possible to substitute plastics with natural fibers in many applications over a period?

How might it be possible to add value to locally available plant fibers and plant fiber waste by minimizing non-renewable energy consuming processes in product design and manufacture?

The aim of this research practice is to promote the use of natural fibers as an alternative to conventional materials in the production of single use products such as packaging. The aim is also to develop plant based natural fiber products using minimum process intervention as an alternative to high energy processed goods.

Research Areas

Can natural fibers be looked at as a sustainable and a long-lasting alternative to plastics and metals and other man made materials

Is it possible to develop natural fiber hybrids/alloys ?

Historically Just like how plastics have been accepted as a material for products that were traditionally made of metal would it be possible to replace plastics with natural fibers over a period?

How might one exploit NF properties such as flexibility, low cost, lightness etc in industries such as automobiles, home appliances, luggage or even packaging?

Can natural fiber, given their properties, be looked at as a reinforcement option in composite materials?

How would it be possible to converge the skills of a NF crafts industry with mainstream high-tech industries? (weaves)

Is it possible to use natural processes of growth or decay in natural fibers in building objects that would be functional?

All man-made materials are defined by their physical properties. These properties enable the material to be used for specific functions in product processing and design. Can Natural fibers and composites be engineered and defined by their specific properties in order to make them an alternative for industrial product design application.

Slides of Investigation

Local neighbourhoods so called 'Backyards' and Craft clusters.

Research methods:

Explore: Surveys, observations, case studies, documentation
Experiment: Laboratory research and processing of materials, experimentation with materials observation and documentation of material properties.
Envisioning: playing with materials to push the boundaries of their properties for product application.

Resources: Materials and archives

Locally available natural plant based fibers.
Locally and nationally available craft based as well as industrial processing techniques.


Natural Fibers lab, Impact Edge, Natural fiber projects:


Jacob Mathew, Ritu Sonalika, Janak Mistry, Prachi Mehrotra. Manoj Dongria.

International partners:

Studio Tjeerd Venhooven (NL), Bio-lutions


For more information about this program, kindly email Janak Mistry at