Towards a new Matter

Milan Friedrich

Oktober / October - 2018

Universität der Künste Berlin


"Towards a new Matter" uses old textiles (worn out, no longer used textiles) and generates a new monomaterial from them.

What is the Topic?

Towards a New Matter is a material-based research project, in which denim fibers have been transformed through a recycling technique into a lightweight and sound absorbing panel material. The textile industry’s production chains have been evolving into key waste and pollution generators over the last forty years. By 2019, from the 80 billion garments produced globally every year, 75% are discarded after being worn for a short time.
This poses an interesting challenge: Could it be possible to turn textile waste into a new and sustainable material that can be integrated into our daily life?

Why does it look like this?

Through a rudimentary material manipulation techniques and the development of a material-related manufacturing process, recycled textile fibres could be transformed into modular, expandable elements that can be arranged within architectural spaces, into space-separating structures, by creating spatial subdivisions or spaces within spaces according to the user needs. The resulting elements adopt the blue coloring of the original denim, have a high strength, and a stone-like aesthetic, without losing the warm and soft tactility of the textile.

What is special?

The innovation; the process, developed by me, is to transform the textile fibre into a solid, high-quality sheet material without addition any chemical binders. Denim has an extremely high cotton content (98-100%) and thus guarantees a pure secondary material. Cotton fibres consist completely of cellulose, which can be pressed into a solid fibre material, by combing finest milled textiles with water and pressure. Textile recycling is still a relatively new sector. Until now, old textiles have been disposed after the end of their use, for example: disposed in landfills or thermally recycled. There are many approaches to bring textiles back into material cycles. In the automotive industry, for example, it is processed into insulating material.Generally speaking, textiles are usually not up-recycled but down-recycled. The original quality of the textile fibre is reduced by tearing the textile and greatly altering the textile structure by adding chemical binders.

What is new?

"Towards a new Matter" shows a whole new mono-material. This consists only of raw material: cotton is a renewable and environmentally friendly material. A system has been developed to recognize locally generated waste as a valuable resource and to give it a new use. The raw material is generated and processed locally. Thus, long transport distances and the avoidance of additional CO2 production are eliminated. No waste is generated during production: excess material is collected and returned to existing production processes. Once the material has been used, it can be returned to the production cycle without any loss of quality.