The Willow Project at Dutch Design Week
This week saw Icelandic research activity, The Willow Project, exhibit at Dutch Design Week, a program of events, exhibitions and lectures specifically focusing on designs for the future. The Willow Project's aim is to investigate one of Iceland’s newly gained raw materials, the willow tree, in order to understand the potential of the available material. For centuries wood has not been an accessible resource in Iceland and the willow is now being used to prepare the soils for new species.
The collaborators went about deconstructing the tree into its micro-scale components - setting themselves a framework of adding nothing but water and applying heat. With no matter considered waste, all bi-products were utilised as valuable resources. After many hours of experimentations and periods of trial and error, they reassembled the found elements into new materials that could stand by themselves.
During our recent trip to Reykjavik, in preparation for Junko Iceland (launching in spring of next year) we made a point of stopping off to meet young designer Birta Rós Brynjólfsdóttir, one of the seven members of the collaborative working on The Willow Project. Birta explained, "Willow is not often looked at, or regarded as a useable material, so we just really went deep into that, looking at the possibilities. What is this material to us? Do we need or want it? Can we even use it?". In answer to the self-posed questions, the group went about pulling the tree apart.
The hope is that these locally grown resources can be useful for the island in manufacturing, ultimately reducing the need to import materials from other countries, which has negative environmental impacts on the planet. The designers are setting the wheels in motion for a local and self-sustainable system of making.
Written by Amy Moffat
"Willow is not often looked at, or regarded as a useable material, so we just really went deep into that, looking at the possibilities. What is this material to us? Do we need or want it? Can we even use it?" Birta Rós Brynjólfsdóttir,
"We created this material library of uses of willow from paper, string, we even boiled the bark to make a kind of tar substance, we burnt the willow and used the ash for paper making".