A Friendly Enemy

Re-generacija collective proposes to use invasive plants as a local source of cellulose in the future, the process is on show at MAO – Museum of Architecture and Design in Lublijana.

Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy
Within the project “Friendly enemy — Japanese knotweed in the paper laboratory” designers from the Re-generacija collective were discovering unrecognised qualities of invasive plants.
Observing the dynamics that are unfolding in industrialised urban nature, the designers from the Re-generacija collective encountered the problematic of a widely spread invasive plant Japanese knotweed (Falopia japonica). In the last decades plants and animals have been spread outside their natural habitat due to intensified migration flows and circulation of goods. Among those species introduced into new ecosystems, many have prospered at the expense of native species — thus becoming invasive.
Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy
Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy. Urban Harvest, collective picking of Japanese knotweed in a degraded area of the city
The potential negative consequences of an invasive behaviour on biological diversity, agriculture and the economy are a cause of concern which has been translated into various policies and strategies aiming at the elimination of all non-native conquerors. Focusing on the accepted ways of confronting the problems of domination of invasive species on one side and behaviours, politics, ideas and habits on the other, the designers started looking for ways to present Japanese knotweed not as an economic and environmental threat, but as a new opportunity to create a synergy between local and global dynamics: their interest lies in creating a bond between needs and knowledges found in local environments and common concerns that arise as consequences of contemporary globalisation flows.
Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy
Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy. Hand papermaking. Craftsman Workshop Vevce

Although in Slovenia the pulp and paper industry is using somewhere between 350.000 and 400.000 tons of cellulose, all the cellulose is being imported from abroad.

Throughout the research process the leading designers – Gaja Mežnarić Osole, Nuša Jelenec and Katarina Dekleva – encountered many unexpected outcomes that inspired new enquiries, ideas and proposals.

Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy.
Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy. Chemical composition of Japanese knotweed from left to right: Japanese knotweed extract, lignin and cellulose
The process of papermaking led them from organizing urban harvest and storing the invasive plant all the way to transforming the local craftsmen paperworkshop into creative laboratory for experimenting with processing the harvested material. Experiencing the microworld of the plant – a leap that was enabled by the national Pulp and paper Institute, made them understand the nature of the components, such as cellulose and lignin, that are of importance in the process of papermaking.
Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy
Re-generacija collective, Friendly enemy. Left: Paper pot, right: lamp
The project and corresponding exhibition feature the results of laboratory analyses, characterisation and assessment of possible uses of the material as well as a selection of ideas and design proposals by students of unique and industrial design. Yet undiscovered potentials of the material and fresh ideas could contribute to the hand-papermaking craft, which – despite its long tradition – is slowly falling into oblivion.

until 28 February 2016
Gaja Mežnarić Osole, Nuša Jelenec, Katarina Dekleva
A Friendly Enemy – Japanese Knotweed in the Paper Laboratory
Re-generacija, Association for eco-social design
Project conceived at 24. biennial of design BIO 50.
Production: Maja Šuštaršič, Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO)
Research group: dr. Tea Toplišek, dr. Janja Zule, Andrej Šinkove from Pulp and Paper Institute, Ljubljana; Gaja Mežnarić Osole, Nuša Jelenec and Katarina Dekleva from Regeneracija Association
Partners: Craftsmen Workshop Vevče, Pulp and Paper Institute, Ljubljana, Academy of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Ljubljana
With the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia
MAO Museum of Architecture and Design, Lublijana

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