Christien Meindertsma and The Art of Textile Recycling

Dutch product designer, Christien Meindertsma explores the potential of textile recycling in her latest installation Fibre Market currently on display at the London Design Museum. Fibre Market is one of eleven installations that comprise the Fear and Love: Reactions to a Complex World exhibit examining a broad spectrum of issues that define present day.
In addition to topics such as sentient robots and digital dating, two of the eleven installations take a critical look at the fashion industry. Specifically, Christien Meindertsma’s Fibre Market offers a critique of current trends in textile recycling. Right now, the vast majority of unwanted textiles end up in landfills or incinerators despite the fact that as much as 95% could be recycled.
While consumer behaviour is one of the most significant contributors inhibiting textile recovery, Meindertsma explores the role that technology can play to increase textile recycling. One of the basic factors preventing scalable textile reuse is the inability to effectively sort textiles by colour and fabric. For Fibre Market, Meindertsma utilised first generation machines that were able to successfully do this. After collecting 1,000 woollen jumpers, Meindertsma worked with two textile companies to machine-sort the fabrics as shown in the picture above. Fibre Market thus demonstrates how machines can facilitate textile recycling, ultimately proving that fibres can retain their initial value and be organised for reuse.
However, while sorting through the jumpers Meindertsma also discovered significant discrepancies with regards to the accuracy of labels. While all labels stated that the jumpers were 100% wool, in reality many jumpers were blended fabrics with as little as 40% wool. Therefore, while critiquing a lack of mainstream textile recycling, Meindertsma also manages to shed light on consumer misinformation rampant in the fashion industry today.
Overall, Fibre Market effectively challenges the concept of ‘disposable fashion’ while simultaneously proposing a technological solution to facilitate textile recycling. She also offers a gentle reminder of ‘buyer beware’ which adds a layer of intrigue to her already compelling installation.
Fibre Market and the other ten installations will be on display at the London Design Museum until April 23rd. You can buy tickets here.