Eco-printer, Kristen McClarty trades in the currency of unique creative surprises via her fabric range, which she hand-produces from plants found on the slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.


With today’s renewed emphasis on simplicity, durability and authenticity, Kristen McClarty’s eco-printing practice and products are as on-point as you could find. Kristen got to this by taking the long route. No art school or decades on a design team feature on her bio, but what does is a robust childhood in South Africa’s rural KwaZulu-Natal (1800km and an entire ecosystem away from where she now lives), which taught her, among several other country-girl skills, to sew and to identify the plants and trees that grew abundantly around her. In contrast, this was followed by a high-powered 13-year stint in corporate law.


While she was super-fluent about fabric and flora from the get-go, where Kristen is now as a surface designer as much a science as it is about art; as much about precision, chemistry and biology as it is about the more soulful stuff of documenting her time and place in her surroundings in a way that others, she hopes, can enjoy.



“My objective with my brand, Inyoni – the isiZulu word for bird, which was my dad’s nickname for me – was to produce wearable and usable art,” she explains. “The art part is the design element, the visualisation of a piece based on prior knowledge of how the foliage I find will transfer onto fabric. So it’s really about a look and feel I’d like to achieve, plus it is about registering or transferring memory onto a textile, and in that way, it is completely different from any mechanical process.”


The science part turned out to be considerably more dicey, alchemic and experimental for Kristen. “There is very little written on the science, as opposed to the practice of eco-printing. Each piece of fabric I make is botanically printed directed from the pigments intrinsic to the foliage. I don’t use inks, dye or chemicals. Nature does the work. There were a lot of eureka moments. You don’t know until you know.”



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Feature image: @natural_mark_making / Instagram

A version of this article was published in the December 2022 edition of Garden&Home Magazine.