Drawing on Christien Meindertsma’s extensive research into textile companies and specifically wool production, ‘Fibre Market’ was conceived for the London Design Museum as part of its 2017 exhibition ‘Fear and Love’. For this conceptual installation, the Utrecht-born designer used 1000 discarded jumpers, sorting their fibres by colour and arranging each of them on piles. The piece reflects on the fact that up to 95% of unwanted textiles that end up in landfill could actually have been reused, highlighting the need for their recycling. At the same time, while working on the piece, Meindertsma realised that many of the jumpers labelled as 100% wool actually contained as little as 20-30% woollen fibres in their composition. This prompted a further investigation into how much – or indeed how little – we know about the products we consume. Meindertsma’s beautiful and neatly-arranged matrix of colourful fabrics may have been part of a temporary display, but it made a lasting impression, commenting on some of the textile industry’s most pressing and current environmental issues.
The environmental impact of our remains when we shuffle off this mortal coil is probably not the first thing on one’s mind when considering our mortality, but this is exactly where Nienke Hoogvliet found inspiration; one of the up-and-coming Delft-based designer’s latest offerings is a cremation urn made entirely out of waste water. Fittingly entitled ‘Mourn’, the minimalist piece is designed to keep ashes safe in an eco-friendly way. The scattering of ashes often has a negative impact on nature because of the toxins and nutrients stored in the human body, says Hoogvliet. This piece, made using a bioplastic called PHA (Polyhydroxyalkanoate) that can be reclaimed through the Dutch water authorities, ensures this doesn’t happen. The material dissolves completely and naturally, so by putting ashes into this vessel and planting it in the earth, the toxins and nutrients included can be released to the ground gradually, allowing for better and safer absorption. Designed to work with different types of soil, the urn comes in three shapes, offering an environmentally-responsible and elegant way to lay a loved one to rest.
Amsterdam-born Dirk Vander Kooij has been fascinated by 3D printing since his student days at the Design Academy Eindhoven. After his graduation in 2010, his design for the ‘Endless Chair’ won the prestigious Dutch Design Award in 2011 by proving that 3D printers can also be used to create larger items from recycled plastics. Vander Kooij achieved this by manipulating the printers to produce a continuous stream of plastic string out of recycled plastic parts and moulding it into a chair. He has since been working with recycled plastic; by developing an innovative robotic arm and a giant press, the designer can now transform waste into brand-new furniture and products; but that doesn’t mean that Vander Kooij is happy to just rest on his laurels. The designer has been constantly exploring new technologies. The possibilities are countless using Vander Kooij’s production methods, and now the designer can also create pieces using hollow tubes in a bid to further reduce the need for material resources.