For the third iteration of Make Good: Rethinking Material Futures, the V&A commissioned Dutch designer Christien Meindertsma to present her groundbreaking research into waste, natural and renewable materials, specifically linoleum and wool.
The result of this collaboration is a display titled Re-forming Waste, a play on words inviting us to look anew at what is considered ‘waste’ material, while referring to the designer’s latest research in creating 3D forms from materials that we more commonly encounter when flat.
In exploring ideas around ‘waste’, the display considers products destined for landfill, but also surplus and virgin materials with untapped potential.
Meindertsma’s creative practice focuses on the life cycles of products and raw materials, tackling themes of local production and underexplored resources. Through investigation, experimentation and careful documentation, she suggests sustainable alternatives to the harmful systems of mass production that have become increasingly hidden in modern-day capitalism. In encouraging a deeper understanding of the materials and products that surround us, she also challenges industry to think differently.
The designer’s interest in linoleum and wool stems from her commitment to work with locally sourced natural materials. Linoleum derives in part from flax plants, a low- to zero-waste crop well adapted to the Dutch climate. The wool she uses is sheared from the Rotterdam city grazing flock of sheep, which contributes to the city’s biodiversity. In addition to these virgin materials, Meindertsma upcycles end-of-life products from regional manufacturers, such as linoleum flooring from schools in nearby cities (working with Forbo Flooring Systems), or surplus woollen furnishing fabrics (with Dutch manufacturer Gelderland).
Could we make household objects from locally produced linoleum? Could we 3D print wool on an industrial scale? Could our production systems become less energy consuming? Meindertsma’s answer to these questions is ‘yes’, or ‘very soon’. The products and prototypes displayed offer a snapshot of her ongoing research. They indicate the possibility of developing a design industry more in tune with the natural environment, an urgent endeavour in this time of climate crisis. By merging environmental, material and technical knowledge with ambition and creativity, Meinderstma demonstrates how large systems of production could become local, sustainable and innovative.
The themes of the Christien Meinderstma: Re-forming Waste display have been brought together in a film produced by Roel van Tour. Future blog posts will address linoleum and wool more specifically, and offer case studies of some of the pieces on display.