De Zachte Stad                2020 –  onwards

Christien Meindertsma spent two years, at the municipality of Rotterdam’s invitation, conducting research into the possibilities offered by a flock of Rotterdam sheep’s wool. And what initially appeared to be a worthless mountain of waste, actually turned out to be a pile full of potential. 

A total of 2000 sheep have been keeping the grass short in numerous places throughout Rotterdam for a number of years. But these sheep have a great deal more to offer than simply mowing the grass. This flock is good for 5000 kilos of wool every single year. A large quantity of material, which had been labelled as worthless until recently. Dutch wool is said to be inferior, and various important links are missing here which are needed for the large-scale, high-quality and profitable processing of wool. While wool is actually a very versatile material, one which insulates well, ventilates, has acoustic qualities and is biodegradable too.

The municipality of Rotterdam called in designer Christien Meindertsma to look into whether this wool really is as worthless as it seemed. This assignment was a great opportunity for Meindertsma, who has been researching wool since 2003, to bring together all the knowledge she had acquired during recent years. It soon became very apparent that what initially appeared to be a worthless mountain, actually turned out to be a pile full of potential. And collaborating with the right people allowed for this material to actually be processed into high-quality products.

Meindertsma has used De Zachte Stad project to demonstrate the possibilities offered by Rotterdam wool in a sample book which has been brought to life. These range from fashion or interior applications, all the way through to concepts for the construction and music industry. Some results are semi-finished products, others are concrete products. Meindertsma’s research has also opened doors to a new innovative material.

Links: De Zachte Stad

This project couldn’t have been realised without shepherd Martin Oosthoek, who asked the municipality whether the wool could be used rather than simply thrown away. Nor without Carolien van Eykelen, who decided to take this request seriously on behalf of Rotterdam Circulair, and stuck her neck out to turn this waste problem into a design issue.

COMMISSIONED BY: Gemeente Rotterdam, Rotterdam Circulair
CREDITS: Carolien van Eykelen, Martin Oosthoek, Standard Wool, Donegal Yarns, Molloy & Sons, Kuperus & Gardenier, Havivank, Roel van Tour, Mathijs Labadie, Lisa Hardon, CS rugs, Gelderland, Hollands Wol Collectief, The Knitwit stable, Cox Piano Gouda, MA-IT, Caroline Vogel, Martinus Johannes, Jetski


Photography: Mathijs Labadie, Roel van Tour
Text edit: Laura Houseley
Graphic design: Kumi Hiroi
Coding: Henrik van Leeuwen


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