Throughout the textile industry, sustainability is becoming more than just a buzzword. Environmentally friendly alternatives to products and services we rely on are in high demand. Yet within the interiors sector and beyond, it’s evident we’ve lost touch with not only how a product is made, but also where its source materials come from. And today’s consumers want answers.
Header photo: Circular Fibres by Charlotte Cazals, which will be part of the ‘Remade Materials’ exhibition.
Our need to know what we take from nature, and importantly, what we put back, is explored in the Future Materials Library at Heimtextil 2020. Located in the Trend Space and curated by Kate Franklin and Caroline Till of FrankinTill Studios, the Heimtextil Trend Council members seek to address this disconnection via the installation by showcasing leading approaches to sustainable material innovation.
“If you consider holistically where materials have come from, the processes and transformation you put them through, and where they will go after use, the social and environmental impact of our products can be totally redesigned,” explain the duo. The resulting installation is designed to reveal the evolution for each sample: from the raw material and its origins, to the material in the manufacturing process, and the final, refined material sample and its potential afterlife.
Featuring work from international textile artists and studios, the Library will include up to 30 materials based on four exhibition themes.
‘Remade materials’ ponder whether today’s waste is tomorrow’s raw material, whereas ‘Biological by-products’ query whether human and animal waste can be explored as an abundant, sustainable material resource.
‘Natural assets’ finds agile and inventive ways to harvest naturally abundant materials by finding resilient crops as alternatives to resources currently used and facing near extinction.
Finally, ‘Living materials’ explores whether we can ‘grow’ materials rather than ‘make them’, using on engineering innovation to create entirely new materials such as lab grown leathers from mycelium and bacteria.
While around 10 to 20 per cent of the materials shown are at the stage of independent design research, approximately 80 to 90 per cent are currently commercially viable products. For Heimtextil visitors, the Library offers an encouraging deep dive as to what materials might be possible to use in a not so distant future. “We need a better, smarter, more cyclical approach, in contrast to our current linear ‘take, make, discard’ relationship with materials – and a new future seems to be within our reach,” confirms Kate.