Jessie French in her studio. Image: James Westland.

Other Matter Decals™ by Jessie French

Earlier this year, Jessie French launched Other Matter Decals™, continuing her ongoing work with her experimental design studio Other Matter, and her artistic practice that looks at a speculative future without petrochemicals.

Jessie's artistic project led her to a closer consideration of the materials used in gallery exhibitions, and after learning more about the material used to produce exhibition wall text, she could not continue to use this material for her own exhibitions, and so began work on an alternative.

The material reality of PVC decals

In her research, Jessie discovered that the polyvinvyl chloride (PVC) used in gallery decals is highly toxic, highlighting an urgent need for sustainable alternatives. The material's toxicity in factory production is linked to increased cancer rates among nearby residents, while in its application it releases harmful volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The chemical plasticisers added to PVC to make it flexible are detrimental to human reproductive, neurological and developmental systems, while the additives make conventional decals non-recyclable, so they end up in soil as landfill or in oceans.

Jessie French's studio (detail). Image: James Westland

Other Matter Decals™ Key Features

Other Matter Decals™ are made with an algae polymer that is both sustainable and renewable. After use, they can be returned to Jessie's studio, cooked back to liquid and re-formed into new sheets which new decals can be cut from. This circular system of recycling creates a process that is non-industrial, low energy and as simple as boiling pasta! In contrast, conventional PVC decals cannot be recycled at all, due to the chemical additives in the plastic.

Non toxic: In contrast to materials typically used for decals, this is a non-toxic solution that does not produce any VOCs that introduce health risks to the spaces they are installed in.

Friendlier life cycle of material components: The base ingredients use to make Other Matter Decals™ are sustainably sourced, renewable components. This is in sharp contrast to petrochemical-based products, where fossil fuels are destructively mined from deep in the earth from finite reserves of oil. Highly toxic chemicals are used in production, causing increased cancer rated in populations surrounding their manufacturing. 

Bespoke handmade production: At this stage, Other Matter Decals™ are handcrafted in Melbourne. All materials used are bespoke and include unique patterning and aesthetic details that are not possible with regular decals. For the exhibition wall text for Aluminium, Jessie is introducing a metallic treatment to the black decals to reference the exhibition's material concept.

Other Matter Decals™ are produced by Jessie French in partnership with Boom Studios.

Find out more about Other Matter.

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Jessie French in her studio. Photographer: Annika Kafcaloudis.