OCA preloader logo
Choosing materials for textiles - The Open College of the Arts
To find out more details about the transfer to The Open University see A New Chapter for OCA.
Explore #WeAreOCA
Skip Navigation
Choosing materials for textiles thumb

Choosing materials for textiles

It is important to choose materials that are fit for purpose. Sometimes the materials we choose can be the beginning of a project and be the main line that guides our work.
Textile designer Wuthigrai investigates how traditional cultural knowledge might inform and interact with society today. He takes inspiration from traditional hand weaving techniques of Thailand in his woven fabrics. Finding ways to reuse plastic he creates woven pieces made out of recyclable PET bottle yarns and polyester, along with biodegradable silk, paper… The result is a series of incredibly detailed and beautifully multi-dimensional patterns and textures, in which social and environmental sustainability is central.
Rug company brand Nanimarquina is the creator of Bicicleta, a Recycled Black Rubber Indoor and Outdoor Rug. The Bicicleta rug was designed by Nani Marquina & Ariadna Miquel for in Spain. This rug is made using 130/140 bicycle inner tubes, collected and processed in India. The company produces the rug in India and it is hand-loomed using 100% recycled material. In addition to being a declaration of intentions by raising awareness about using biodegradable or recycled products, it represents a point of transgression for today’s most avant-garde spaces. This design was born through researching the possibility of using recycled rubber to create new textures. The solution arose during a journey to India: using inner tubes from bicycle tires, the most common mode of transportation there. The result: a conceptual, sustainable, new element.


Sports brand Adidas and environmental initiative Parley for the Oceans have released the first batch of running shoes with uppers made using recycled plastic recovered from the sea. Designed by London-based Alexander Taylor, the shoes are made using Adidas’ existing footwear manufacturing processes but the usual synthetic fibres are replaced with yarns made from the recycled Parley Ocean Plastic.
The green wave pattern across the uppers is created from recycled gill net, which was dredged from the sea and recycled into the fibre. The rest of the upper is formed using waste plastic collected around the Maldives, where the government is collaborating with Parley to rid the island chain of the issue within five years.

Dutch designer Nienke Hoogvliet’s Waterschatten furniture and homeware is made from reclaimed and recycled toilet paper.
His collection is made in partnership with the Dutch Water Authorities, which has been experimenting with recovering energy and raw materials from waste water.
By using fine sieves, used toilet paper can be collected from the water rather than being burned, as it was in the past. The company estimates that 180,000 tonnes of toilet paper is flushed down only in Dutch toilets each year.
The designer has also experimented with turning algae into yarn, which was knotted around fishing nets to form floor coverings.


Posted by author: Pere Bruach
Share this post:

One thought on “Choosing materials for textiles

  • Interesting to read about these initiatives. In the UK there is a lot of activity going on to get recycled materials used in mainstream manufacturing (not just bespoke ‘upcycling’ projects) – eg so that recycled plastic is used instead of 100% virgin polymer- to try and close the loop in creating a Circular Economy for a more sustainable use of resources. Given that the Ellen MacArthur Foundation was set up in response to round-the-world yachtswoman Ellen’s reaction to see floating masses of plastic rubbish in the Pacific, it is good to hear about a brand label promoting use of recovered plastic from the ocean in its footwear. Use of recovered materials from waste water is an interesting challenge in terms of the consumer’s acceptance of the end product. A commercial operation in Wales, called Natural UK and Nappicycle are collecting and treating absorbant hygiene products to recover cellulose and plastic for future use and thereby reduce the ecological footprint of this type of waste which would otherwise take up to 500 years to breakdown in a landfill site.http://www.naturaluk.co.uk/nappicycle/what-is-nappicycle

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to blog listings