Dyed by nature
Mountains and sea, earth and sand, trees and plants. People have always been fascinated by nature's colours and harnessed them to dye clothes and other textiles. Now we've revived this tradition and use plant leaves and stems to give the JOFRID textile series its warm, natural colours. This is how we can create beautiful products while reducing our environmental impact, so that our planet can continue to inspire us with its colours.
Humans as a species have lived in nature much longer than in cities, so it's no wonder that nature still means a lot to us. We simply feel good by getting outdoors and enjoying parks, forests or marine environments, but also by bringing nature into our homes.
Today, there is also a growing awareness that we need to care for our planet so that nature is around in the future, and it helps that many people now want to decorate with organic designs and natural materials and dyes.
"I think it creates a sort of calmness in us and that's why more and more people appreciate slightly robust, natural products that are environmentally sustainable," says Isabel Lundahl, who works with developing new products at IKEA.
Natural and renewable
Isabel has worked with our JOFRID series, which is part of a pioneering project for a completely new way of dyeing textiles using agricultural waste products ─ in this case plant leaves and stems that would otherwise be thrown out.
It was Isabel's colleague Catherine Larsson, a materials expert specialising in textiles and dyes, who initiated the innovative project. At the same time, she tells us that this is one of many examples of work done by IKEA as a result of the environmental challenge that dyeing textiles always involves.
"I heard of the new method and found it interesting for us. Textile dyes are usually oil-based, but the dye we use for JOFRID is instead based on completely natural and renewable resources that look like and function in the same way as chemical dyes. We've started on a small scale, but aim to develop this and other projects as soon as we can", says Catherine.
Reviving a sustainable tradition
The method stems from harnessing the planet's resources in ways that are more efficient and less harmful to the environment.
Catherine has a long list of figures that show the benefits of the new method. The figures show great reductions in negative impacts on the climate, human health and our natural resources ─ among other things due to the fact that greenhouse gas emissions are lower during manufacturing and transport.
"But the most important things may not be the exact figures, but that we at IKEA want to be part of a positive change and contribute to a new way of thinking surrounding sustainability. We don't always have all the answers, but we always want to be better. In this case, we want to revive an older tradition when people didn't let anything go to waste and were very inventive when it came to recycling and reusing what nature has provided", says Catherine.
More beautiful and personal over time
The JOFRID series consists of curtains, throws and cushion covers in earthy and bluish shades. For Isabel, the task of developing the products was actually quite familiar.
"We always think about sustainability when we develop our range, so this was not new for me. Our products should always look good and maintain a high level of quality, and this also applies to JOFRID", she says.
So, what was different in this case? Isabel pauses, thinking.
"Maybe we had to embrace a way of thinking which was even more long-term. The natural dyes mean that it doesn't matter if the products experience wear and tear, since they will only become more beautiful over time, much like a pair of jeans that looks better and becomes more personal the more they are worn", she says.
By using nature's own dyes, it means that we can create beautiful textiles with long lifespans while we reduce our environmental impact ─ so that nature can continue to delight, inspire and fascinate us in the future too.