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The Madness & The Mask

Words: Polly

Photos: Domus. O2Today. Lanaco.

It’s a sad indicator of the state of our air that a pollution mask is either necessary, let alone ‘designer’.

It’s a sad indicator of the state of our air (certainly that in some areas and countries) that a pollution mask is either necessary, let alone ‘designer’.

As we humans continue to poison ourselves and the planet, it is paradoxical that we are locked in race against a mess of our own making in order to sustain our future existence. Madness isn’t it? And, whatever his reasons for wearing one (rumoured to be to disguise botched plastic surgery, protect his skin from the sun due to vitiligo and/or enable decoys to fox the paparazzi), perhaps Michael Jackson wasn’t so ‘mad’ after all.

Marcel Wanders has recently designed a pollution mask for San Francisco based O2TODAY™. The Urban Air Mask incorporates the HELIX™ Filter, developed by Lanaco (formerly Texus Fibre), the wool science innovators based in New Zealand, using 100% NZ MAPP® certified Merino wool from specifically bred high country sheep.

The natural thermo-regulating and antimicrobial properties of wool promises superior moisture management, odour resistance and natural temperature regulation, while delivering unsurpassed comfort, created through ‘physiognomy modelling’ to minimize air leakage and ‘deliver a perfect fit for all people’. A perfect balance between maximum protection and breathability, making good on O2Today’s claim to offer the world’s most breathable mask.

The wearer receives a steady stream of purified air because it takes less energy to draw air through the filter. In testing against AS/NZS 1716 – the Australasian standard for respiratory protective devices – O2Today masks are proven to capture up to 97% of all particulate matter at a flow rate of 95 litres/minute.

According to the designer himself, Marcel explains; “Our air pollution mask is a simple yet important innovation that will help thousands of people around the world. Made from premium New Zealand wool, the mask itself is an extremely breathable, ergonomic and sustainable product, made from a material that doesn’t add to the problem it is trying to solve, pollution”.

On this note, you may be curious like me to know what happens regarding disposal after the 15-45 days lifespan of the product (dependent upon the specific air quality), which seems, well, wasteful? I queried this with O2Today CEO Bruce Lorange who explained;

“As the mask is comprised of 100% Merino Wool facings and a Merino wool filter, it is recyclable material, however, the filter will hold pollutants so it would need to be effectively cleaned before the materials could be reused in a new application”.

Yes, I too have thought what you’ll look once you remove the mask after you’ve been in the sun – a Friesian cow springs to mind, but I guess we should all be wearing factor 50 anyway so a two-tone effect face won’t be an issue.

Joking aside, perhaps this really is a look we are all going to be sporting in the future, though I do hope it’s not necessary. For the sake of the planet may we find solutions that cease and reverse environmental damage negating the need for products that enable us to exist within it. We can hope can’t we? Available in two sizes and six designs from Forest to Glacier. £26 with free worldwide shipping.


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