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Christien Meindertsma's dream project

Based around the tradition of rope-making, 'the flax project' designed by Christien Meindertsma in collaboration with Thomas Eyck was a breath of fresh air in a Milanese-ocean of over-design. 

By Jeanne Tan /asdf 24-04-2009

After a few days of hectic reviewing, the presentations in Milan all start to feel the same.

A few are good, many are OK, some are totally forgettable. Then one presentation comes along that is a complete breath of fresh air. For me, that was 'the flax project' designed by Christien Meindertsma in collaboration with Thomas Eyck and Zuiderzee Museum.

The project comprises an interior collection based around rope-making and flax, a plant from which linen is derived. Rope-making had a rich history in Belgium, France and particularly The Netherlands, where the climate was ideal for the growing of flax plants. Researching the complete history of the tradition of rope-making in The Netherlands, Meindertsma found flax as one of the base materials and choose that to use for this complete collection. Using flax grown on a small Dutch farm and working with a master rope maker, the collection integrates old-fashioned craftsmanship with a new interpretation of an old tradition.

Launched in Milan was the complete collection including lamps, a rug, a stool, linen tea towels, candles, and a series of wooden fixtures created by a specialised wood restoration workshop that create the hanging system of the lamps. The collection demonstrates the versatility of the material which is completely unexpected. 'Many people don't even know what flax is anymore which is a pity', says Meindertsma. 'What I love about the material is that you can work with it in many ways. It can be stiff as in the rope or completely refined when you turn it into linen. I like it just white or natural, but the colour depends on what kind of harvest it will be. There's slight differences every time because it's a natural product'. Highlights are the candles which were made by a Dutch monastery with a long tradition in candle-making. 'I made the candles because I got totally immersed into the whole rope-making thing. Candles are also made from rope before you dip them. The tree-like structure means that after a while, the candles will burn to become one'. The rug and stool are made from wound and bound rope, connected only at the ends and the wooden lamp shades are based upon the traditional fixture in which the ropes were hung on while being twisted. The collection demonstrated thorough research and process, was made with exquisite craftsmanship and resurrected the beauty of an unexpectedly beautiful but forgotten material.  

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