Lauren Bowker

Lauren Bowker

London

My company, the Unseen, creates our own range of clothing, cosmetics and hair products.

Lauren is a designer – without chemistry and materials science, she wouldn't be able to make her amazing creations.

What do you do in your job?

I consider myself a designer and a material alchemist. My company, the Unseen, creates our own range of clothing, cosmetics and hair products.

We have seven employees in our business – including business and commercial experts, designers and chemists.

If you had to summarise the impact your job has on everyday life?

To me, magic is just science that we don’t understand yet, and this is something that we try and promote.

With the colour change hair dye, we wanted to help young people – girls and boys – express themselves.  It came about because I got one of the chemicals that we were using in my hair and I thought it looked good!

What’s the best thing about your job?

People are afraid of complex data and science, but when they are presented with things like colour, they will respond in a very organic way.

Sometimes these products are to monitor a specific aspect of people’s lives, or sometimes they are just for aesthetic or creative purposes…It’s about making things and getting them into people’s hands.

What did you study at school?

I studied English literature, Photography, Textiles and Chemistry, but I struggled at A-levels. Not because they were academically challenging, but because I was just finding myself. I felt like I was restricted by the subjects I was studying.

I had just learned to drive, we moved from a small country town to a city, and there were so many distractions!

I wanted to be a fashion designer, so I took an art foundation degree and put together a portfolio. I found that was such a great way of learning, because they just put you in a studio and let you go.

What inspired you into a career in science / engineering?

I went to university to study textiles, but had to take time out due to illness. When I gained the strength to return to study, I decided I wouldn’t create stuff without a purpose anymore.

I wanted to make things that people would use, so I talked my way in to the chemistry department and started studying materials chemistry.

Jacob Chabeaux for Dazed (scarf changes colour with pH) Jacob Chabeaux for Dazed (scarf changes colour with pH) Jacob Chabeaux for Dazed (scarf changes colour with pH) Max Oppenheim (wind-reactive ink) Max Oppenheim (wind-reactive ink)

What advice would you have for people wanting a career like yours?

  • I would say get the home science kits – those things were you can grow crystals, and follow kitchen chemistry. I think I probably learned more from that than books!
  • It’s important to get hands on with things and see how they work. You learn more that way than anything else
  •  You don’t have to choose between science and design – you can do both

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