There’s nothing more nauseating than finding a stray hair in your food, especially when you know it isn’t your own. But it wasn’t always this way. The hair started out as a beautiful thing sitting atop someone’s head. Sure it’s gross in your soup, but you weren’t complaining five minutes earlier when it was dangling from the noggin of a cute blonde chef.
This is roughly the motivation behind crystallized hair. Students Daniel Keeffe, Amy Webster, Milly Bruce, and Sam Part wanted to make stray hairs beautiful again, so through arduous work, they transformed an icky dead body part back into a natural wonder.
“Our process was quite disgusting, involving cutting off hair and grinding it down using pestle and mortar until we had a powder,” Keeffe tells Co.Design. “The idea of reintroducing beauty is just like any restoration job in that it doesn’t look good until we had a finished product. In that sense, it was trial and error to get a visually pleasing outcome.”
With the hair powder in hand, the team extracted the natural color (melanin) from blonde, brunette, and red samples. The melanin was then mixed with a crystal-forming solution, ostensibly regrowing the hair as a sparkling gem.
Looking at the final results, the blonde is a fairly obvious fungal toenail yellow, while it’s a bit harder to distinguish brown and red, which both manifested as grey crystals. But in each case, the crystals are more appealing than their constituent vacuum-clogging, unintentional-tooth-flossing stray hairs. And when the team finally tossed them into a kaleidoscope, who amongst us could tell the difference?