Julian Ellis-Brown (Materials Innovation, 2021)

Julian Ellis-Brown

Shortlisted in 2021 for Materials Innovation

Julian Ellis-Brown is a systems thinker and design engineer specialising in novel sustainable materials. Based in London, he co-founded Ponda (previously SaltyCo) alongside fellow students Antonia Jara Contreras, Finlay Duncan and Neloufar Taheri when they met on an innovation programme at the Royal College of Art and Imperial College London. Julian’s background in mechanical engineering, alongside his design Masters, enables him to have a holistic understanding of both the minutia and macro impact of designing materials that put nature first.

Ponda (previously SaltyCo) uses the hardiest and most adaptable parts of nature to build materials in a changing environment whilst actively healing it. Their flagship product is a plant-based fibre fill for apparel and other applications, made from salt-tolerant freshwater-free plants. Salt marshes are some of the most planet-healing spaces in the world, and farming salt-tolerant plants in these environments provides optimum sustainability, while reducing reliance on heavily freshwater-reliant plants such as cotton.

Julian’s other projects include Ventnor Brickworks, creating a construction material from macro algal blooms. He devised a modular, mobile brick manufacturing centre using small amounts of renewable energy and local materials to turn a waste stream of kelp into low-carbon, recyclable bricks. Another of his projects, Aerium, is a new aircraft environment inspired by nature and harnessing photosynthesis to work as a natural and sustainable way of generating energy and cleaning the air.