Italy was selected as the partner country of Domotex 2024, key international fair for carpets and floor coverings, which took place in Hannover from 11th to 14th January. Exhibitions and installations were held under the title “Insight Italy” and Materially presented a selection of virtuous Italian sustainability experiences and value chains in the exhibition “Il cielo in una stanza”.
For Materially this was an opportunity to research the most advanced materials used in the industry and craftsmanship of carpets, wood, and non-ceramic covering materials. The investigation was carried out in line with the spirit of the fair – Floored by Nature – which intended to capture practices aimed at the circular transition in Europe and the world. With regard to Italy, Materially identified three main approaches in the creation and use of sustainable materials:
- Closing the loop: production and sourcing of secondary raw materials
- Nature rediscovered: revival of traditional natural materials / engineering of bio-based materials
- Sustainable creativity: artistic upcycling, reuse, and recycling
In the world of textile products, Italian supply chains have made a significant contribution at the global level, especially in the field of synthetic carpets. Indeed, Italian research has produced recycled nylon and acrylics of great performance – resulting from both mechanical and chemical recycling processes of post-industrial and post-consumer waste ranging from fishing nets, fashion acrylics, to PET bottles.
The connection to the territory or to a specific natural material is the basis for carpets and tapestries of great artistic value and material performance: wool treated with natural processes and dyes, Asian coconut fibers worked according to Italian technical and artistic intuitions, short fibers coming from silk waste reassembled into carpets with unique comfort and softness.
When artistic research is intertwined with experimentation in material supply chains, the results are of great visual and tactile impact: Turkish carpets with desaturated colors produced with processes free of toxic chemicals are reassembled into patchwork with a contemporary flavor, as well as -similarly- hemp sacks. A yarn made from recycled paper is woven into carpets that are chromatically seductive and have excellent use resistance.
In non-ceramic flooring and non-textile coverings, Italian supply chains have produced some unique products linked to the territory or to historical features. Among these, a parquet stained using the natural chemical characteristics of wine; clay or lime-based plasters enriched with rice husks from local crops; floorboards made from the recovery of briccole, wood poles used in Venice to mark the navigable channels in the lagoon.
Other wood-based coverings are the result of almost artisanal processing of essences from Italian FSC forests or from trees that have fallen spontaneously, thus optimizing protected or entirely natural growth cycles.
Some of the products presented are the result of targeted engineering solutions that aim to address other critical aspects of the supply chains to which they belong. Examples are a parquet installation system that guarantees the easy replacement of individual floorboards; sound-absorbing panels and flexible flooring made from mycelium; waterproof and aseptic mortars based on natural oils and enriched with shellfish waste; PVC-free wallpaper printed with recycled inks on rice starch supports; or decorative coverings made from cellulose pulp and agro-food waste.
From the recycling of post-consumer materials, various Italian supply chains have made concrete products with great application and visual impact. Among those on display: sound-absorbing modules from PET, decorative panels from recycled fabrics, plastic profiles with very high recycled content, WPC flooring and facade systems, and parquet floors dyed and protected with post-industrial recovered graphite.