Giving linoleum another look

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In the Netherlands, Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Lina Chi is hoping to reinvigorate use of linoleum—a biobased material launched in the 1950s that became popular in the 1950s as a flooring material but would eventually be supplanted by polyvinyl chloride.

Made from materials such as cork, wood dust and limestone mixed with linseed oil and applied to a jute fabric backing, linoleum is both durable and biodegradable.  Chi’s most recent work, which includes a bench, table, and stools, aims to invoke nostalgia for the once-popular material while also highlighting its versatility.

“It’s been around me forever—in schools, hospitals, kitchens—and those were such strong memories because of its visual qualities and also because of the smell and touch,” Chi told design publication dezeen.  “It’s a rebranding because it’s an existing material and I wanted to show it in a new light, but to me, it’s also a heritage, something we had in the 1970s. If we use it again today in 2022, what does that look like?”

Chi collaborated with UK flooring manufacturer Forbo to test how linoleum could be shaped into curves, as opposed to flooring, the application it is most often associated with.