When we talk about Linen the first thing that comes to mind is fashion clothing and home decor like tablecloths and napkins. You can imagine then my surprise when I've been invited to visit the Linen Dream Lab Milan and they showed me a tennis racket and a motorbike helmet made with linen components!
What induced the European Confederation of Linen and Hemp (CELC) to start researching and developing alternative uses for this fibre?
Where does Linen come from?
70% of the world’s Linen crop is produced in Europe, mainly in northern France and Belgium (the Flanders). It is an ecological plant that respects the laws of nature, there is no need of fertilizers as it grows naturally in warm and humid environments, and it doesn’t need much water either.
1. Flowering 2. Scutching.
Once the crop has flowered it is pulled and retted on the ground to dry. It is then collected and pressed into bales and stored until the fibre is extracted. It is then scutched, combed, prepared for spinning and finally woven.
3. Combing 4. Weaving
Properties and uses of Linen
From ‘Be Linen Map’, Masters of Linen.
Linen fibre, once processed and prepared, can be used as a composite with other materials to make the product:
- Ultra light
These valuable characteristic makes the use of linen fibre very attractive in eco-design and bio-architecture: interior design, equipment for leisure, house insulation as well as in the automotive industry and boats. The variety of its use is the key element of the linen fibre.
This is why, a year ago, the European Commission, CELC and the French Ministry for Agriculture started to co-finance research and development in the world of ‘art de vivre’ (the art of living), ranging from more traditional uses (for example in home decor) to more complex compositions for the industrial sector.
In bio-architecture, linen fibre is used as acustic insulation, to protect from the heat and from the cold and it has the extra bonus that it doesn’t get mouldy.
It can be used in cars to reinforce its structure, while when mixed with resin you can get an ultra light pair of glasses.
A few designers have already used linen as an integral part of their products, for example François Azambourg’s « Lin 94 Collection » chair:
« Lîdje » by Les M Designstudio
Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance « Table Dual design »
Have you ever seen a lamp made with linen components? Such a versatile material has great potential, show us your designs!
Linen Dream Lab
In their words, “Linen Dream Lab is the CELC showroom for expression, dedicated to creation and innovation for fabrics and techniques. Having opened in March 2009 in Paris and in February 2010 in Milan, the Linen Dream Lab proposes its services by appointment to order-givers in the fashion, art of living and design industries”.
There will be an open day on 3rd May 2012 for all those interested in visiting the Linen Dream Lab and have a chat with Ornella Bignami who leads this initiative in Milan at Elementi Moda.
There will also be an installation and a dedicated evening for the presentation of a book on linen, more details of this will appear soon.