By Avinash Rajagopal
Two years ago, when the engineers at the German chemicals company BASF invited the designer Werner Aisslinger to work with some new materials they’d developed, they didn’t think that he would choose to pair a water-based binder called Acrodur with hemp fibers. But Aisslinger was convinced of his choice. “You don’t think it is that exciting,” he told them. “But as an outside eye, I see it as the most important new material here.”
The product that Aisslinger finally created out of the hemp-based composite vindicates his choice. Displayed at the exhibition Poetry Happens during this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, the Hemp Chair is a lightweight seat with several interesting properties. “At a wall thickness of five millimeters,” Aisslinger explains, “it is as strong and durable as fiberglass.” But unlike fiberglass, it releases no harmful chemical fumes during the manufacturing process, only water. The material, which is 70 percent natural fiber, comes in square sheets that can be layered and easily molded under heat and pressure.
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