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Flax makes a comeback

The age-old practice of rope making/weaving is resurrected by Christien Meindertsma in 'The flax project', a series of objects made in collaboration with Thomas Eyck and Zuiderzee Museum to be launched in Milan.

By Jeanne Tan /asdf 01-04-2009

This year in Milan, Thomas Eyck will launch the 'The flax project' designed by Christien Meindertsma.

The collection of design producer/editor Eyck grows slowly year by year. He works only with one designer at a time and one single material to produce a series of products each year, made with a high level craftsmanship often with an artisanal grounding.

After previously collaborating with Studio Job using bronze and Scholten & Baijings using willow wood, Eyck commissioned Christien Meindertsma this year with the material rope/flax in mind. Design Academy graduate Meindertsma is known for her label Flocks and is the author of the book Pig 05049 which made a big impact on the design scene last year. "I always start with a craft/material", explains Eyck. "I always wanted to do a project with rope, just because I love the material. I wanted to cooperate with a 'traditional' rope maker, using hand-made techniques instead of machines. Rope-maker Steenbergen, started in 1899, was very enthusiastic about this project and wanted to collaborate with me."

The next step was to decide which designer could take the project into their own hands to give it a fresh and innovative perspective. "Two years ago I met Christien Meindertsma in Tokyo and loved her project with woollen sweaters. Each sweater had a different length, depending on the quantity of wool from one sheep and it came with a label from that specific sheep. Her handwriting is very back to basic and she is always interested in the origin of a product."

Meindertsma immediately said yes and began researching about the traditions of rope in The Netherlands. "She discovered that the South West part of The Netherlands was formerly famous for growing flax used for the rope industry. Today the cultivation of flax is almost gone, there are only some small farmers who still cultivate it. We used these Dutch flax plants which are spun in Belgium into yarns. Unfortunately this craft has also completely disappeared in The Netherlands. These yarns go to Steenbergen and he uses these yarns for the production of the different ropes. With these ropes, Christien then uses very old techniques as spinning, weaving, twining and splitting to give shape to her objects."

The result is an astonishing collection of objects - lamps, electricity cables, rug, stool and a table cloth - which will be unveiled in Milan. The project was made in collaboration with the Zuiderzee Museum.

Address: Romeo Gigli cafe, Via Angelo Fumagalli 6, Milan
Dates: 22-27 April 2009
Opening times: 10:30 until 19:00 daily

Image: Flax plant (Linum Ccatharticum) from Herbarium Leiden, dated 1822

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