Lina Chi designs linoleum furniture to show the material in “a new light”.

Lina Chi, a graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven, has designed a collection of curved furniture pieces made from individual sheets of linoleum to reinvent the material.

Called Linoleum, the collection includes a bench, a low table and two stools designed to show how linoleum, typically used as flooring, can also be used to make furniture.

Linoleum is a biodegradable material made from a combination of biomaterials such as cork, wood dust and limestone mixed with linseed oil and applied to a jute fabric backing.

The Linoleum furniture collection includes tables and seating

According to Chi, the biomaterial is often mistaken for plastic, likely because of the similar-looking PVC surfaces.

Their linoleum furniture collection aims to maintain a sense of material familiarity while showing how linoleum can be reinterpreted in different ways.

“It’s a rebrand because it’s existing material and I wanted to show it in a new light, but for me it’s also a legacy, something that we had in the 1970s,” Chi told Dezeen. “If we use it again today in 2022, what does that look like?”

Linoleum stool by Lina Chi
The curved shapes are formed by hand

“It’s always been with me – in schools, hospitals, kitchens – and these have been such strong memories for its visual qualities and also for the smell and touch,” the designer continued.

“It’s so time specific that for me it was perfect material to ask contemporary questions about a material that was already there.”

Chi worked with UK flooring manufacturer Forbo to test how samples of linoleum could be bent and bent into sculptural shapes by hand.

As an interior lining material, linoleum is waterproof and fireproof. According to the designer, the biggest challenge in using the material for furniture was making it strong enough to support a person’s body weight.

To make it stronger, Chi took inspiration from how cardboard was made stronger by adding a corrugated layer between two sheets of paper.

Linoleum stool by Lina Chi
The furniture is made of the biomaterial linoleum

The linoleum furniture was made without glues or permanent bonds. Chi hand-deformed a single sheet of linoleum in a heated room, creating a fluted structural form with sculptural curving flourishes that harden in place upon cooling.

“I realized that the tighter I made the corrugation, the stronger the linoleum became, and interestingly, the linoleum changed with the warmth of my body, but also with the warmth of the room,” said the designer.

Linoleum furniture collection by Lina Chi
The furniture is biodegradable

Chi hopes the furniture collection will inspire others to experiment with existing materials in unconventional ways, and that linoleum will be used in conjunction with other materials that complement its properties.

“I would be happy if it would shape our living space again, but in combination with new materials,” said the designer.

Other designers have also developed furniture made from bio-materials to offer more sustainable options, including children’s stools made from olive pits and restaurant furniture made from food waste.

Photograph is by Sarah Collins.

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