Elissa Brunato began her career in embroidery design and production, where she witnessed some of the global and environmental implications of distantly-made design choices. While overseeing production sites and artisanal workshops in India, China and Italy, she learnt that whilst design decisions are made primarily concerning aesthetic and economic values, the consequences often create unnecessary waste at multiple stages of manufacture. Her work has since responded to the tension between human wants and the increasingly urgent demands of environmental sustainability. Elissa explains, “My work aims to find practical solutions and implement circular design thinking to tackle today’s material challenges. I conduct my research through hands-on making, experimentation, user research and expert collaboration.”
Elissa’s collaborative investigations into sustainable production are numerous. E5 Ground sees her collaborate with E5 Bakehouse and designer Nathalie Spencer to create sustainable packaging materials from breadmaking waste. In 2019, Elissa commenced a collaboration with material scientists at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden to develop bio-iridescent sequins made from cellulose – the most abundant plant-based polymer. In 2021, she co-Founded AusBlau Studio with Christoph Dichmann, a platform to investigate systems that surround materials. Their first project responds to London’s water pipe systems; around 600 million litres of drinkable water is lost to leaks per day, enough to meet the needs of 20 million people. To resolve this, AusBlau Studio researched the possibilities of material self-assembly and self-repair, to design a water supply network that can counteract changes in their environment to withstand breakages. Most recently, Elissa founded Radiant Matter, a design-led material innovation start-up, developing and scaling sustainable and high performing colour and material solutions for the circular economy, particularly for the fashion and textile market.