Windworks Furniture by Merel Karhof

May 14, 2013

Using windmills, designer Merel Karhof has created a furniture series called Windworks.

You can watch a ‘making of’ video – here



The design studio of Merel Karhof, colour mill ‘De Kat’ and sawmill ‘Het Jonge Schaap’ proudly present Windworks, an event that will take place at colour mill ‘De Kat’, at the Zaanse Schans in the Netherlands from the 12th – 19th of May 2013.

Windworks is a collection of upholstered furniture pieces, of which the wood, upholstery, dyeing and knitting of the yarn are all made with a free and inexhaustible energy source; the wind.

In 2010 Karhof made a ‘Wind Knitting Factory’, which is a wind-powered knitting machine. The blades embrace more than a meter in diameter, and the wind caught by them powers the ‘mill’. In this way it is possible to knit a long scarf. When it is windy the machine knits fast and with less wind, the machine knits slowly. Occasionally the knitwear gets ‘harvested’ and transformed into, amongst other things, scarves. Every scarf gets a label that tells the time and date on which the wind knitted the scarf. This mobile wind factory illustrates a production process and it visualizes what you can produce with the present urban wind.

Ever since she made her first knitting factory Karhof had the wish to use the harvest of her factory to upholster chairs and stools. And what better place to do this than in the world famous windmill area, the Zaanse Schans in The Netherlands. To create a collection of furniture, ‘Wind Knitting factory’ designer Merel Karhof initiated a collaboration between three millers: a saw miller, a colour miller and a knitting miller (Karhof herself). The Zaanse Schans is an area located on the river ‘Zaan’ in the province of Noord Holland and is home to a collection of well-preserved historic windmills. Each one of these produces a different kind of raw material. There is a colour mill called ‘De Kat’ (the Cat), which has been fitted out to grind colouring materials, as well as a sawmill called ‘Het Jonge Schaap’ (the Young Sheep), that saws planks from trees to old Dutch measurements.

For the occasion of this collaboration, Karhof designed a series of furniture pieces. The wood will be sawn by the wind and assembled at the sawmill; from there it will be transported by water to the pigment mill. Here yarn will be dyed with natural dyes, grounded by the colour mill. After the dyeing process, the ‘Wind Knitting Factory’ knits the yarns, and with each harvest, the wood structures will be upholstered.

Finally, the upholstery will be constructed from little pillows, each representing the amount of time needed by the wind to make it. The result will thus give an insight into how much time is needed to produce the upholstery.

For this special event, Karhof built a new ‘Wind Knitting Factory’ that incorporates a new feature; a pennon, that gives the machine the facility to turn away from the wind when the speed gets too high, therefore allowing it to operate independently.

The machine and the furniture will be on show at colour mill ‘De Kat’ for one week during National Windmill Day in the Netherlands. A small wooden house will be constructed to display the furniture and other wind-made products.

Windworks shows a production triptych between three windmills and it makes visible what can be produced with wind power. It shows how windmills working together can become a complete and holistic industry.

The exhibition runs from the 12th – 19th of May 2013

Designer: Merel Karhof
Photography: Merel Karhof