27 Nov 2018 • Lauren Grace Morris
Interior textiles can be sustainable, too - let Kvadrat show you
If you hear anyone say that the EU wastes millions of tonnes of textile each year, it’s no exaggeration – in one year alone, the estimated waste member states generate is approximately 16 million tonnes. Last year, the UN reported that nearly 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean annually. With a clear public visual of that devastation alone, it’s almost unfathomable to imagine the textile equivalent. Designers in the garment industry are scrambling to find solutions, and, from upcycling to biotech couture, the possibilities bring a sense of hope – but how can this urgency translate over to interior textiles, too?
Innovators at the renowned Danish interior textile company Kvadrat have an idea. Beyond that, they have something to show for it – their Re-wool collection, designed by Margrethe Odgaard. The Copenhagen-based designer is constantly searching for new ways to explore colour and pattern in materials, and this project was no exception. Utilising 45 per cent recycled wool, the Re-wool textiles are crafted from spills collected from the spinning process. Typically, when end-of-life or waste textiles are used for new products, their fibres are never as long or strong as they were originally – but, with Kvadrat’s recycling strategy, the fibres are not compromised, and the quality does not falter.
Because the fibres used for the recycled yarn are collected from a variety of different spinning processes from other textile collections, the mix, or rather, the new raw material, always results in a dark grey shade. In order to give the textile collection stronger aesthetic value, Odgaard also incorporated a non-recycled wool yarn dyed in vibrant shades. The result is a veritable rainbow of fabrics, richly woven and incredibly durable – quantified at 50,000 Martindale, the textile is extremely resistant to abrasion and can withstand heavy wear. For Odgaard, developing the palette was all about finding the right balance between warp and weft.
The ability for companies like Kvadrat to continue forging a more sustainable path in the textile industry is reliant on their relationships with partner suppliers. For Re-Wool, the team worked with Wooltex, a British mill in the centre of Yorkshire’s textile industry. Wooltex is situated in Huddersfield, where textile milling began during the Industrial Revolution. Local geography and climate create an optimal environment for the industry, as the western side of the Pennine mountains get heavy rainfall – ideal for cotton manufacturing. Huddersfield is on the eastern side, where wool production is better due to less rainfall, and rock formations cause soft water, vital for finishing the textiles, according to Wooltex’s technical director Richard Brook. Wooltex is virtually a zero-waste company and this carries over into what they produce for Kvadrat.
The circular journey is a communal one – one that requires collaboration between companies, suppliers and designers
The circular journey is a communal one – one that requires this kind of passionate collaboration between companies, suppliers and designers. By redefining the use and transformation possibilities for textiles, Kvadrat is also laying the foundation for other interior textile companies to question and improve their own production.