This year it was not possible to have the NeoCon tradeshow in Chicago, with millions of visitors from all the US and abroad to check out the latest trends in commercial design. But we decided to take this opportunity to ponder and think how we would like our own virtual NeoCon to look like and what we wanted to introduce in the conversations about commercial design. So, we centered everything around sustainability, re-design and beauty, with no limitation to our imagination and to the ability to connect, with the hope to create new conversations around the future of design.
Aquafil is the producer of ECONYL®, a nylon fiber that is not only 100% regenerated from waste materials but it’s also regenerable infinitely. We produce a sustainable circular ingredient that is used in many design applications, from carpet tiles to broadloom to rugs, automotive mats and now also furniture.
Sustainable nylon is our job, but we don’t stop there. We want to evolve the industry into one that is circular. We want to redesign products to be recyclable so that collectively we can begin to close the loop within the design industry. So why not put these topics on the table front and center in our virtual NeoCon? We did — with a number of different activities that you can discover here below.
From our virtual showroom, the most interesting news
We collaborated with magazine Interior + Sources to create a virtual sketch of our showroom that can be explored. The sketch was done with the help and collaboration of the students of SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). In it, you will find also a brief introduction from chairman and CEO of Aquafil Giulio Bonazzi and the link to download our revised e-book: ‘5 Reasons for Interior Designers and Architects to use Sustainable Materials’.
The brand-new product that we were going to present this year is the noho move™ chair, the first chair created with our ECONYL® regenerated nylon.
This chair was created to transform the traditional static nature of home furniture by integrating the dynamic ergonomic comfort of a premium office chair and sustainable design, to create a chair that flexes and flows with any body and can last a lifetime. You can find also a video interview talking about the design and the material behind this product that recently received the honorable mention of the 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards by Fast Fashion.
A Sustainability Lab with Metropolis and events to discover everything about sustainable design
Because we wanted the focus to be centered on sustainability, we decide to become the main sponsor for the Sustainability Lab by Metropolis. Metropolis is a monthly magazine about architecture and design, with a strong focus on sustainability. The lab is a place to learn more about sustainable design and specification and connect with key experts and manufacturers. Here you can find sustainable products, producers, webinars about sustainability topics, articles and you can ask the experts.
Aquafil, with the ECONYL® brand has a page that feature all the products made with ECONYL® nylon. Here we share videos and resources about our process and the brands we work with.
Among the products featured currently you will see the first hand-knotted rug made in Nepal by Sarawagi Rugs and designed by UK designer Isobel Morris, then you will find the Crafted collection by Masland and the beautiful rugs of Punto e Filo, a Brazilian rug producer. We also included one fashion item we think could inspire designers. It’s the Napapijri Infinity Jacket made entirely with Nylon 6 and that is also 100% recyclable by design. Aquafil will in fact take back the old jackets to regenerate the nylon for new products.
Part of the activities of the Lab will be also a series of webinars that will be streamed on Design TV by Sandow.
You can catch up with older ones here below. These are all the webinars that Aquafil/ECONYL® has sponsored:
· DESIGNING RESILIENT SPACES
· THE PANDEMIC IS A PORTAL SUSTAINABILITY
A portal into a new NeoCon
The last project we are presenting during NeoCon is, once again, a sketch created by Interior + Sources with the students of SCAD, that represent the entrance of the Mart, the art-deco building where NeoCon is hosted in Chicago.
Last year it was the first edition of NeoCon Plaza, an outside area to enjoy design inspiration near the river. All the carpets that covered the area were made with our ECONYL® regenerated nylon and the space was designed by Gensler and brought to life by Forward Fruit. In the sketch you can find a link to a video from 2019.
In this sketch, done virtually for this year, you will see the same space but with a new option of carpet, inspired by the pattern created by Isobel Morris for the hand-knotted rug produced by Sarawagi carpet, and presented at Domotex 2020. The design of this carpet takes inspiration from the fishing nets recovered to make the ECONYL® nylon. So, we decided to bring the raw material that we collect and use front and center, with big stacks of fishing nets and old carpets. You can explore the videos of how we collect the nets and how we recycle old carpets.
But in the sketch, we also draw a red portal inspired by the words of Indian writer Arundhati Roy.
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
We believe designers have a great role in future changes on the other side of the portal. They can make a product to last forever — “If you want something to last, make it as lovable as a Labrador,” wrote playful architect Lance Hosey in his The Shape of Green. They also influence a product environmental impact by choosing the materials and designing the product itself — “over 80 percent of a product’s environmental impact is decided upon at the design stage”. And they can influence behaviors and habits in numerous ways.
So, we included a red portal, like a gate to enter a new world where design is mindful and a force for good, and where products are loved and cared for to last long time before being disassembled to become nutrients for the next production. Just like designer David Oakey hopes for, in conversation with Giulio Bonazzi, in the NeoConversation podcast you will find exploring the sketch.
We hope you will enjoy all these events, talks, resources, articles and sketches that are full of inspiring design products and videos. And we hope to spark some interesting conversations about the future of design and materials.
For more, stay tuned with Aquafil and ECONYL® and follow us on our social media.