Forest Wool: products made from pine needles

Wood is an incredibly divers material that is in high demand. A large part of the available wood is pinewood. In the EU alone, yearly 600 million pine trees are felled to keep up with the wood demand, which is more than is planted back. When the trees are cut down, the needles are left behind as waste. Tamara Orjola, who graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven (NL), started a project called Forest Wool, in which she experimented using pine needles and has found ways to turn them into textiles, composites and paper.

The pine tree is the most common tree in Europe and Asia. About 20 to 30 per cent of its mass consists of pine needles, which amounts to about 70 to 100 kilograms (154 to 220 pounds). Orjola was inspired to use the needles of the scots pine tree when she found out how many trees were cut down, and thus how many needles were wasted. The needles consist of cellulose and lignin, and from them, essential oils and dye can be extracted.

By treating the needles, they can be turned into paper, textile, and composite material, making them a good (local) alternative for other fibres like cotton and coir. Orjola uses standard manufacturing techniques, such as crushing, soaking, steaming, carding binding, and pressing.

In addition, she has made a series of stools and carpets using nothing but pine needles for Forest Wool. The furniture offers an alternative for using wood.

Orjola’s project Forest Wool was exhibited at the Dutch Design Week 2016 (22-30 October).

Photos: Tamara Orjola