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Examples of Dutch sustainable material design

Students from the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, the Netherlands, presented prototypes of sustainable new products and materials.

The students were part of the Circular Design Factory, an innovation workshop initially founded two years ago to find new applications for hemp, which is grown on a large scale in the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe in the Netherlands. Since then, the focus has broadened and shifted more to the reuse of materials.

Product designer Wessel Oelen focused on both hemp and reuse. The Nicolas church in Kloosterburen, near Groningen, will be converted in a multifunctional space, in which resonance is not always wanted. Using hemp felt, the acoustics of the church are improved if needed, and the material is removed when resonance is needed. Additionally, Oelen used discarded skateboards to make coasters, table tops and chair seats with layered patterns.

Guinevere Berre used hemp felt in shelters for recreation and survival of refugees. The felt was added to triangular frames of bamboo to create a strong and sustainable product, as both bamboo and hemp are fast-growing plants.

From discarded troughs for chickens, Jasper Spoelstra made lamps. Additionally, he reused the steel of car springs, a very high quality steel, to make a knife set, with handles made of recycled plastic bags.

Finally, product designer Kim van den Belt developed various fabrics made from corn and potato starch. The fabrics vary from leather-like and shiny to matte. Van den Belt also experimented with natural colourants to dye the fabrics. Some are even fire-retardant. The applications are very diverse, from use in curtains or lamps to drum covers. For clothing, they are less suitable as they can’t be washed.

Photos: Amir Komelizadeh

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