Five sustainable materials to watch for 2018
Words and Photographs
In our exclusive report from Heimtextil, we identify the trends that are predicted to dominate textiles over the next 12 months…
This year Heimtextil, one of the largest textile events of the year, is not simply about fabrics but also about what the future of our lives and homes might look like. This year’s trend space, curated by Franklin Till, is entitled The Future is Urban and looks into the intersection of our urban futures and the worlds of design and textiles. One of these lifestyle trends is, of course, sustainability. As our cities keep growing, urban waste is becoming an increasing problem to which designers have sought to find original solutions, seeing waste as a resource rather than as something to discard.
The Remade Materials space brings together designers and companies to showcase some of the most innovative ways of turning a problem into a solution and embracing circular practices. We picked our top five of those driving forward the sustainable material revolution…
Wood waste – Foresso
The construction process of furniture produces a large amount of wood waste in the form of tiny pieces that could not be utilised – until Conor Taylor, founder of Foresso, began to reclaim it. Using fractions of high-quality timber, sourced locally, he created a versatile new material that recreates the aesthetics of traditional terrazzo, originally made from leftover marble. Foresso can be used in the same manner as any interior material, from large surfaces – like wall panelling – to small accents, for example in furniture design. Whereas this wooden waste would normally have been burned, Taylor has given it a second chance to decorate our spaces.
Leather waste – Jorge Penadés
Reusing fabric discarded by either consumers or the industry is now an established practice, but designer Jorge Penadés has turned to another material often used by the same manufacturers – leather. After discovering how much leather waste was produced by the car, fashion, shoe and furniture industry, Penadés wanted to come up with a new way to recycle and utilise the material. He created a process of shredding up the discarded leather and mixing it with bio-resin to form a solid, versatile material. Structural Skin, as it is aptly called, is a strong reconstituted material that can be used in flooring, tiles, shoes and more.
Paper waste – NewspaperWood
The need to recycle paper waste may be a well-established one amongst consumers, yet paper is still one of the materials that tend to have the shortest lifespan (for a newspaper it can, of course, be shorter than 24 hours). As the woods that are used to create paper are a finite resource, Dutch design studio Mieke Meijer decided to reverse engineer the process – and turn paper back into wood. By cutting up and layering discarded newspapers, they’ve created a material that when cut resembles grains in the wood. Though it might not be as solid, Newspaper Wood is, they suggest, able replace wooden parts in furniture building, the automotive industry and jewellery.
Plant waste – Piñatex
Though plant and agriculture waste might be biodegradable, we are simply producing too much of it and often in places where waste management is tricky. That is why Piñatex, founded by Carmen Hijosa, has tackled this specific challenge by developing a non-woven textile that can be used as an alternative for leather or its current (plastic) replacements. The raw material – as the name suggests – consists of leaves from the pineapple plant that are traditionally discarded by the fruit industry. Using this previously worthless material, which is often burned, Piñatex has also created a new source of income for the local farming communities – which of course makes us like them even more.
Plastic waste – Weaver Green
A lot of noise has been made lately of the amount of plastic waste that is quickly filling up both our landfills and our oceans. To tackle this increasing problem, Weaver Green has been turning plastic bottles into something with more longevity and purpose. They create interior textiles from yarn that has been entirely spun out of used plastic bottles. The resulting robust fabrics look and feel similar to rough wool – and an individual product can contain anything from 50 to 750 recycled plastic bottles. The company is also committed to finding hand-weaving partners who can ensure a responsible production process that respects the craftsmen and women.