Tatami mats – a type of floor covering – have been a staple in traditional Japanese interiors for centuries. Typically made with igusa (common rush), their cultural significance is closely linked to their natural materiality, encompassing colour, texture and smell. But their use is in steady decline.
The Tatami ReFab Project – the work of Japanese design collective Honoka – sets out to give this cultural icon a new lease of life (while combatting waste), by transforming obsolete mats into a striking green-coloured novel biomaterial that can be used to create alternative products for the contemporary home.
The team worked with Japanese additive manufacturing specialist Extrabold to develop the material: waste igusa grass is ground into a powder, then mixed with cellulose acetate before being formed into pellets ready for 3D printing.
Each designer from the group has devised an interior product proposal using large-diameter 3D-printing technology, with knit- and lattice-like structures informed by traditional Japanese patterns. The collection includes a freestanding bathroom washbasin, ikebana vases, various stools and pendant lighting.
Future-facing machine-made products were high on the roster at MDW, with many projects pushing the boundaries in terms of sustainability and creativity. We report on this, along with with other material highlights, in our Milan Design Week reporting.