Furniture windworks by Merel Karhof

Knitting machine: design made by the wind

by eleonora usseglio prinsi
1 Love 2129 Visits

DESIGN _ In 2010 Studio Merel Karhof made a ‘Wind Knitting Factory’, which is a wind-powered knitting machine.
The blades embrace more than a meter in diameter, and the wind caught by them powers the ‘mill’. In this way it is possible to knit a long scarf. When it is windy the machine knits fast and with less wind, the machine knits slowly.

Occasionally the knitwear gets ‘harvested’ and transformed into, amongst other things, scarves. Every scarf gets a label that tells the time and date on which the wind knitted the scarf. This mobile wind factory illustrates a production process and it visualizes what you can produce with the present urban wind.

Wind Knitting Factory, at the Zaanse Schans by Merel Karhof

Ever since she made her first knitting factory Karhof had the wish to use the harvest of her factory to upholster chairs and stools. And what better place to do this than in the world famous windmill area, the Zaanse Schans in The Netherlands.

Windworks is a collection of upholstered furniture pieces, of which the wood, upholstery, dyeing and knitting of the yarn are all made with a free and inexhaustible energy source; the wind. 

Windworks, computer illustration by Merel Karhof

To create a collection of furniture, ‘Wind Knitting factory’ designer Merel Karhof initiated a collaboration between three millers: a saw miller, a colour miller and a knitting miller (Karhof herself). The Zaanse Schans is an area located on the river ‘Zaan’ in the province of Noord Holland and is home to a collection of well-preserved historic windmills. Each one of these produces a different kind of raw material. There is a colour mill called De Kat (the Cat), which has been fitted out to grind colouring materials, as well as a sawmill called ‘Het Jonge Schaap’ (the Young Sheep), that saws planks from trees to old Dutch measurements.

For the occasion of this collaboration, Karhof designed a series of Furniture windworks pieces. The wood will be sawn by the wind and assembled at the sawmill; from there it will be transported by water to the pigment mill. Here yarn will be dyed with natural dyes, grounded by the colour mill. After the dyeing process, the ‘Wind Knitting Factory’ knits the yarns, and with each harvest, the wood structures will be upholstered.

Finally, the upholstery will be constructed from little pillows, each representing the amount of time needed by the wind to make it. The result will thus give an insight into how much time is needed to produce the upholstery.

The machine and the furniture will be on show at colour mill ‘De Kat’ for one week during National Windmill Day in the Netherlands. A small wooden house will be constructed to display the furniture and other wind-made products.

Windworks, upholstery samples by Merel Karhof

Merel Karhof, born in the Netherlands (1978), lives and works in London. Already at a young age she travelled through Europe and lived regularly for longer periods in different European countries. Travelling has given her the opportunity to sharpen her curiosity, as well as discover local manufacturers, and it continues to inspire her to make products in a dialogue with her surroundings. Merel Karhof has presented her work in exhibitions in London, Milan, Venice and Amsterdam. In 2011, the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, USA, purchased her work for their permanent collection.

Yarns dyed with natural pigments by Merel Karhof

12th – 19th of May 2013 
Colour mill ‘de Kat’
Kalverringdijk 29
1509 BT Zaandam
The Netherlands

    Furniture windworks 17

    Furniture windworks

    London / United Kingdom / 2013