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Flax: sustainability is the new luxury

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

Flax: increasing its value for society’ was the challenge posed by cross-border researchers funded by the European Union INTERREG IV A France (Channel)—England call, as the ancient flax fiber had seen a dramatic decline in consumer appeal and market share. The resulting collaboration value 2.9 million Euros, author was CO-I, ProjectFlax, delivered new innovations where novel applications in sustainable materials for human and environmental wellbeing produced premium products from an unexpected plant source. Could value in future be defined and measured not just by the aesthetics of the artefact, but by assessing the true value of materials using a holistic narrative in relation to process, the philosophy and sustainability of the application? This assessment is, we argue, new luxury. The purpose of this chapter is to show that flax was an unexpected source of innovation for societal advantage, appealing to consumers who desired a deeper material meaning and product differentiation—characteristics afforded by traditional expensive luxury brands. The collaboration between design, science, technology, engineering, mathematics and business (D-STEM-B) combined discipline methodologies, which resulted in new thinking and problem solving. Case study, desk-based, laboratory, practice-led, field study, quantitative, qualitative, narrative and observational methods were explored by 20 national and international, commercial and institutional flax researchers. The findings included improved agricultural and industrial production methods, composites, foodstuffs, biodegradable packaging, bio materials, fashion and interior product prototypes. The research has contributed to a knowledge transfer toolbox between D-STEM-B partners and advanced transdisciplinary working methods, which resulted in further successful funding applications and new market opportunities for flax.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Sustainable Luxury Textiles and Fashion Volume 1
Subtitle of host publicationEnvironmental Footprints and Eco-Design of Products and Processes
EditorsMiguel Gardetti, Subramanian Muthu
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-9812876331
ISBN (Print)978-9812876324
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2015

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