The Linen Project

It seems strange that an art academy would deal with agriculture and an Agricultural University with fashion. Even so, this is the case. Together with ArtEZ Master Fashion Design, the Dutch Crafts Council has initiated The Linen Project.

Producing sustainable fashion
With The Linen Project, the Dutch production of flax, linen and (linen)products are studied, to see if it’s possible to revive these in a sustainable way. It’s a known fact that the fashion industry has to change drastically. The current market is focused on economic growth and financial gain: products are being produced at increasingly cheaper rates, poor quality and exchangeability. This seems like an unstoppable reality, which leads to the disappearance of our connection with the origin of the products we use on the daily and with ourselves.
However, we see a countermovement: (young) people have a growing interest in the search for connection with the underlying production processes of the products they use and consume daily. In the last few years we’ve seen an increasing interest in local, small scale productions, homemade, artisanal, traceable, honest, circular and sustainability to name a few qualities.

Biodiversity & making new narratives
Flax is a crop which is traditionally grown in the Netherlands. The linen of the Low Lands was very desired, because it was part of the best quality in the world. For a long time, having a well filled linen closet meant having a big fortune.
With The Linen Project, we aim to develop new economic, social and cultural ecosystems to demonstrate the vital importance of biodiversity. Flax is a so-called alternating crop: it can be grown once every seven years on the same piece of land.

We’re changing the dialogue when it comes to agriculture, history, heritage, (landscape) architecture, fashion, food, craft, design, contemporary art, economics and innovative business operations. Because the world is changing. And we are digitally connected more than ever. But how and where are our roots? How can we reconnect with deep human values and age-old knowledge and skills? The Linen Project seeks and activates the economic viability of the growing and processing of flax and the small scaled linen production in the Netherlands.

Crafts Council Nederland werkt samen met o.a. ArtEZ Master Fashion Design en Openluchtmuseum Arnhem aan het vernieuwen van de mode industrie. Door te beginnen bij de aarde, het oogsten van vlas. | Foto: Openluchtmuseum Arnhem

Connection between people and nature
A very urgent challenge is upon us: the people within the Netherlands who are able to transfer their knowledge and skills when it comes to growing and processing flax are dying out. We see the importance of involving young people, not just designers, but also young people who choose farming or a life as a craftsperson.

The Linen Project activates “old” knowledge, skills and the different meanings associated with flax and linen production. New technologies, new connections and possibilities are applied to this, so that future production is based and builds on a restored connection with people and nature.
With this project people with a diversity of backgrounds are collaborating. We no longer define design as just a product, but as one of the processes in a larger set of complementary and reinforcing activities.
Other partners we’re collaborating include.: Nederlands Openluchtmuseum, WUR, Avans Hogeschool, Hochschule Niederrhein, the farms De Lingehof and De Horsterhof.

Stay up to date with Crafts Council Nederland by following us on Instagram and subscribing to our newsletter.