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Design competition sparks more than 40 textile innovations – winning concept tackles noise pollution

The City of Lahti recently ran a textile recycling innovation competition, which attracted more than 40 submissions. The winner chosen by the broad-based panel of judges was a concept called Birds, which provides a solution to a contemporary concern: noise pollution.
Kuusi tuomariston jäsentä sohvalla

The aim of the competition was to find more uses for end-of-life textiles.

One in five Europeans is regularly exposed to noise levels that are harmful to human health. This translates to more than one hundred million people in Europe. The winner of the competition – Birds by Antti Ylisassi and Anna Kuukka – is an acoustic concept that tackles the issue of noise pollution.

–It was wonderful to see so much creativity and talent in the competition and to have submissions from all over the country. What particularly impressed the judges about the winning concept was its unique way of combining aesthetics, functionality and sustainability. It embodies our commitment to the circular economy and supports our mission to reuse textiles, says the City of Lahti’s Communications Director Veera Hämäläinen.

Innovations that make use of end-of-life textiles have great social significance, as the average Finn currently throws out around three kilograms of textile waste every year.

Inspired by Finnish nature

The winning concept – Birds – is an acoustic solution for public spaces and private homes, made of sound-insulating panels produced using recycled fibres.

–We wanted to create something that tells a story and makes people stop and think. Birds are important characters in legend, folklore and mythology and often thought of as symbols of liberty, peace and spirituality. Birds are said to have been there when the world was created. This concept aims to ensure that our planet survives for future generations as well’, explain the winners Antti Ylisassi and Anna Kuukka.

End-of-life textiles elevated to new heights

The judges praised the aesthetic and innovative value of the piece and the fact that it is both topical and necessary from the perspective of production and utility alike. The panel also hoped to see the concept reproduced in different colours and shapes in the future.

–The search for silence is like a modern-day pilgrimage. Studies show that noise is a psychosocial stressor and that noise pollution is on the rise. We felt that addressing the issue of noise pollution was a worthwhile endeavour, says Marianne Heikkilä, Secretary-General of the Martha Association.

–With more and more people having to spend extended periods of time in noisy environments, acoustics have become a hot topic. Birds is a dynamic solution to an everyday problem, says Professor of Practice Sami Sykkö (LUT University).

–The winners were also given points for upcycling. The concept elevates end-of-life textiles and adds value to the circular economy. Using old textiles in this manner actually makes them more valuable in their second life, says Minna Cheung, Senior Lecturer for Wearable Design at the LAB University of Applied Sciences’ Institute of Design and Fine Arts.

The panel of judges also included Professor of Product Design Harri Kalliomäki (LAB), Executive Creative Director Laura Paikkari (TBWA\Helsinki) and Environmental Coordinator Jenni Rahkonen (City of Lahti).

Read more about the project