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Flax Chair Beazley Designs of the Year : Graphics Nominee
Q&A with Christien Meindertsma
In this collection of interviews, some of this year's Beazley Designs of the Year nominees share their design stories, challenges and aspirations with the Design Museum.
What was the initial motivation for your design?
I had been working on the flax project for about 5 years at that time. I had been following a flax farmer and his crop and investigating a lot of different possibilities of using flax, but had not quite found the right purpose for it.
What was the first conversation you had with your team? How did the design develop from there?
This was a question from new dutch company **Label/Breed**, who asked me to design a composite product from natural fibre, together with a company specialised in natural fibre mats called **Enkev**. The project is really a team effort of different people working together.
What obstacles did you face whilst working on your project?
Making it a truly industrial product is the most difficult step in the process. You really have to solve all the technicalities. Because this is a new field, it was at times quite challenging.
What is the latest news regarding your project? Has it fulfilled your initial hopes?
We are now in production, so that is a big step for us. The initial hopes were to make it an affordable, versatile, environmentally friendly locally made chair. It fulfilled those hopes, but to make it really work we will have to see if it will also find its way to a big audience. We don’t want it to be a rare ‘art design’ project, we want it to become a normal object.
What’s the one thing you’d like people to remember about your design when they leave the exhibition?
That flax is a wonderful crop that we should use much more.
What does it mean to you to be nominated for this year’s Beazley Designs of the Year?
It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to tell the story of the flax and to show the chair to people.
If you had one piece of advice to a young designer, what would it be?
Follow your heart and work hard.
The Flax Chair is made of flax fibre. The flax plant needs very little water to grow, which makes it quite a durable plant.
The Flax Chair is made of several layers of fabric made from flax fibre & PLA: we use a linnen made from the long fibre of the flax plant and we create a sort of felt from the short fibre of the plant. This short fibre is not often used and usually discarded because the fibres are too short to use. You can use these fibres by combining it with PLA.
The seat and legs of the Flax Chair are heat-pressed from the same material. The legs are placed around the seat of the chair, which is a very efficient use of material and creates only very little cutting waste.