Every year Brain Awards challenges Design Academy Eindhoven students to put forward socially relevant and innovative ideas. This year there were seven awards totalling 20 000 euros in prize money and Latvian designer Tamara Orjola was chosen out of 20 finalists for the DLL Sustainability prize for her invention of pine wool – an alternative and sustainable material extracted from pine needles.
In her project, Orjola investigates the numerous applications for pine needles, which are discarded by the tree felling industry and left on the ground in heaps. The young designer developed a method of extracting fibres from the pine needles using a steaming process. With these fibres, Orjola was able to create paper, alternative textiles and compounded raw material for furniture design.
Before embarking on the project, Orjola started researching traditional uses of plants and was struck by the dichotomy between the past and the present value of the pine tree. Today millions of these trees are felled every year for timber, but in earlier times, the trees were used to create healing remedies and to build homes. With further investigation into the felling of pine trees, Orjola discovered that everything but the pine needles are used.
From the 600 million pine trees that are cut down in Europe every year, 420 million kilograms of pine needles are left behind. Orjola’s work creates something good out of something not so good by finding a sustainable purpose for industrial waste. Apart from winning 3 000 euros in prize money, Orjola will receive support from competition sponsor and financial solutions company DLL in furthering the development of her idea.