Eindhoven – One of Forbo Flooring System’s YouTube videos is titled Making linoleum is like cooking with natural ingredients. Aptly, the cook prepares the recipe atop a cutting board, following a recipe that includes ingredients that you may or may not have sitting around in your kitchen: flaxseed, linseed oil, rosin, chalk powder, marmoleum cement and wood flour.
And for her Biophilic Surface project, presented during this year’s Dutch Design Week, Laura van de Wijdeven looked into Forbo’s trash bin for her own recipe. The Dutch manufacturer has specialised in floor coverings for over 150 years, and jute fibre is the only by-product of the linoleum production process – van de Wijdeven’s proposal is half-comprised of the material, effectively creating a zero-waste solution for Forbo.
If it’s possible to feel serene from looking at linoleum tiles, the potential mental impact of biophilic design seems limitless
Jute, the long, soft South Asian vegetable fibre used to make burlap sacks and garden twine, is completely biodegradable and has a variety of applications, especially when woven with other textiles, such as wool. Atelier LVDW, van de Wijdeven’s design studio, focuses specifically on the ‘natural stress relief from being in green environments’ and a human, innate relationship with these design materials. Her research within biophilic design possibilities has extended itself to other creations – including a bio-plastic lampshade made from potato starch that allowed her to experiment with colour, transparency, interaction and light.
The soothing colours that define her jute tiles are a prime example of using design elements to evoke a guided psycho-spatial experience. The waste jute fibre mixed with plaster creates a durable tile from literal fluff, and offers a new way of looking at linoleum’s relevance in future spaces. On first glance, the tiles seem almost a visual trick: they look to be made from papyrus, with variegating, fibrous patterns naturally occurring from the long strands of jute.
As our world becomes louder, the Biophilic Surface project seems to honour the fact that we inherently need quiet spaces
The surfacing, which is for indoor use, leaves one to wonder: if it’s possible to feel serene from looking at linoleum tiles, the potential mental impact of biophilic design seems limitless. As our world becomes louder, the Biophilic Surface project seems to honour the fact that we inherently need quiet spaces – if not in volume, in aesthetic subtlety.
Biophilic Surface was on display at the Warehouse of Innovation during Dutch Design Week 2018.