Last year, Studio Joris de Groot garnered a great deal of attention with his colourful Colback design; the Pleated Seat. Still today, Joris often receives recognition from the press —his design was featured in the Financieel Dagblad ( Dutch newspaper) just last July. For the Pleated Seat collection, Studio Joris de Groot gathered inspiration from the production processes of air filters, a product partly made of Colback. Triggered by the construction of filters — which consist of various layers and materials — Joris commenced his research with the aim of designing a new product. This year, his research departs once again from existing technical applications of the Colback material, from which he will draw new possibilities that combine functionality and aesthetic quality.

Joris: Existent Colback products form the base of my design process for In4nite II. I have carefully examined the products that are already being manufactured from the Colback material. Learning to understand the technology behind each product offers me gateways into exciting new manners to apply the material.

One of the current uses for Colback is its implementation in the automotive industry, where it is incorporated into the upholstery of car interiors. This I find a fascinating fact. I am currently looking at the various stages of production that precede the final upholstery; particularly the tufted and moulded elements of the car interior and the carpeting of the car hold my interest.

I searched for a company that produces tufting machinery in order to learn more about the technology. I discovered a company that specializes in tufting. They also run an additional research centre, where different tufting techniques are thoroughly investigated.

Moulding Material

After tufting the Colback, attention is drawn to the moulding of the material, to examine the ways in which the material behaves in car interiors. The moulding is outsourced to another factory, who I will also pay a visit in order to better understand its process and possibilities.

The moulds that are used for this moulding process are extremely valuable and highly specific; simply creating one such mould is a project in its very own right. For this reason, I have inquired what might be momentarily available in terms of these moulds. Which moulds already exist, and what purpose do they serve? Thusly, I have acquired a test mould that belongs to Low & Bonar.

This test mould has been developed in order to minimize irregularities within the interior. However, I’d be interested to play with these irregularities. For example; by adding graphics to the material; by making the Colback visible in certain places; or by tufting the material at divergent heights. It is precisely these details and irregularities that I would like to emphasize because it reveals the techniques and the materials behind the design.

Take a simple linear pattern, for example. If you were to tuft and subsequently mould such material, the lines would become distorted, which in turn highlights other details. Linear patterns thus emphasise distortion. I also want to investigate the effects of tufting at different heights; when the tufting is quite low, surface colours bend and reveal the colours below. It could also be that I decide to make the Colback itself visible precisely in those spots.

 

One of the current uses for Colback is its implementation in the automotive industry, where it is incorporated into the upholstery of car interiors. This I find a fascinating fact.- Joris de Groot

 

The factory as point of origin

As my way of working as designer is always in close collaboration within the industry, I have already visited several manufacturers with whom I will collaborate for certain. It is important to me to mirror the steps within the production process in the final presentation. In that sense, graphic lineation plays a part in this, too, as it exposes the moulding process. Other details come to mind as well; For the finishing of the product I am inspired by a car mats manufacturer, which I recently visited. The various techniques that are applied in the manufacturing of car interiors thus return in the final design.

At the moment I cannot say with certainty what my final design will look like — perhaps it will turn out entirely different from what I imagined. Naturally, this depends largely on what I encounter during factory visits; I’d like to see what else they have in store. And although these visits take up ample time, I find them invaluable. They allow me to follow the production processes from start to finish. Whilst attempting to memorize details of conversations that are had during these tours, I simultaneously try to keep my imagination active. It has the potential to generate brand new trains of thought that might inspire the company to re-evaluate their production processes.

Showing one’s true colours

After the scheduled visits, I must commit to creating samples as quickly as possible. The first step would be to tuft the Colback, and roll in onto a spool. Next, I would examine the functional- and aesthetic details of the material after using different techniques and I shall design a model contingent upon the outcomes. Considering the limited time, I am certain this will prove to be quite a challenge.

This year’s colour scheme will slightly differ from the previous year. Last year, I used filters as my source of inspiration; their colours were so dazzling that they could be directly applied to the final design of the chair. This year will be trickier, because generally speaking, colour schemes of car interiors are all but pronounced; especially the carpeting. Therefore, I think I will introduce  a new selection of colours. Or perhaps I will resort to the standard colour scheme, but employ conspicuous patterns and combinations which would underline the shapes of the material; contrasting blacks and whites, for example.

I’ve also been on the hunt for assorted car industry yarn — however, this proves to be difficult because of its specificity. Usually, yarn is produced in the colours grey, beige or black.