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Missed the Milan Design Week? Here are some material highlights! Part III

At the Milan Design Week, several companies and designers showed how you can do wonderful things with recycled and upcycled materials. In our third and last article about the Milan Design Week, we show you some great examples of projects that give a material a second life. In addition, one of the exhibitors gave the visitors a chance to look at the process behind making a product or material. Enjoy part III (part I, part II)!

Solid Textile Board benches
Throwing away old clothes is a waste, as the fibres can be used to make all kinds of new things, such as new fabric, composite material, acoustic wall covering, and much more. The fibres can even be pressed to create a sheet material, called Solid Textile Board. Designer Max Lamb used this material to create various types of benches.

Solid Textile Board, made by the company Really, is a sheet material that offers flexibility in all directions, as opposed to wood fibre material, which is flexible but brittle. The texture is cross-laminated, because the fibres go in all directions. It is made from cotton and wool, as these fibres are usually downgraded in existing recycling processes, and has a warm feel thanks to its textile origins.

The core of Solid Textile Board is made from end-of-life white cotton from industrial laundries. The colours are added as an outer layer. The textile fibres take up 70 per cent of the board. The remaining 30 per cent consists of a bicomponent binder.

Because Solid Textile Board is made up of fibres that overlap, the material can be cut to up to 0.3 millimetre thickness without breaking, allowing for very accurate folding.

Lamb chose to explore many variations of the product. Benches need to be able to hold the weight of a person, and preferably of multiple people, so the project tested the strength of the material.

The majority of the benches were made using CNC cutting as the primary tool for processing. The designs vary a lot, some using almost excessive quantities of the board, while others are designed using a minimalistic approach.

PS 2017
Every three years, IKEA creates a collection to complement their standard range of products, which is called PS (post scriptum). The PS 2017 collection, which became available in February this year, contains several products that are made with recycled or otherwise sustainable materials. It also tries to eliminate waste at every step of the way.

One product in the collection is a chair called Odger, which is made from 70 per cent recycled plastic and 30 per cent renewable wood. The chair does not seem to be available at IKEA (yet). The collection also contains vases designed by Iina Vuorivirta that are made from previously rejected glass, due to bubbles or defects.

The Kungsbacka kitchen units, made from recycled plastic and recycled wood, are also part of PS 2017, which we wrote about here.

Wood in Process
An interesting exhibition was that of the Dutch collective Envisions, which showcased process of making a product, rather than the finished product itself. The exhibition emphasised he possibilities of the process, which Envision sees as an undervalued and rarely explored part of the industry. They accuse corporate companies of choosing the road of proven practices, while alternative paths might lead to the same goal.

Spanish wood manufacturer Finsa provided the material. Each member of Envisions was invited to find potential new uses for its range of materials, as well as by-products created during manufacturing.

Examples include embedding electronic paths to experiment with the possibilities of adding light in wood products, adding prints based on exaggerated versions of grains and knots, and splitting sheets to expose the inner fibrous texture.

Photographer Ronald Smits captured the manufacturer’s materials through a multiplane camera, which makes the sheets appear to be sitting behind rather than on top of one another.

Photos: (Solid Textile Board) / IKEA (in part via Dezeen) (PS 2017) / Ronald Smits (via Dezeen) (Wood in Process)