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MaDe Finalist

Signý Jónsdóttir

Lyme Grass Roots

I’m Signý, a 23 year old woman from Reykjavík Iceland that just graduated as a product designer form Iceland University of the Arts. If Ikea would ask me to design a new set of candleholders for the spring 2020 my answer would be no, but thanks though for the offer. The human is always in need of something new and that is my biggest fear. What about just looking back and search in the ocean for ideas, objects, discoveries and thoughts that existed or exist, because we already have the answer.

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Project Information
Material Qualities
When wet it is smooth, yellow, shiny and slimy but when it dries out it becomes stiff, breakable, matte and light brown.
Smells: Ocean, wetness, green, wheat.
It can sting or slip form your fingers. It reminds me of a horse tail, the thickness of the hairs.
Material Recipe
There is no recipe other than go to a sandy beach where Lyme grass grows. After a windy weather the roots are visible in the sand since the wind has blown the soil away. In many cases the roots are not a part of the plant any more so I pick it up.
Material Application
Number one to five, the plant should keep on growing around the island like it does, but hopefully more wider in the future to decrease the percentage of black sand desert.
Material Method
The nature creates the material itself, over ten to thirty years the root system can stretch down to five meters. When the root is not attached any more to the plant and then not needed any more I take it and shape it. There are five steps in how to shape it.

- First I go and get the material, keep it humid, do not let it dry out. It has to be during springtime or autumn.
- Now I categorize it, make five millimeter thick bundles and around one meter long.
- Next I pick up one bundle, break it in half and start turning it. Then you break it in half again after you have a good tension. There you have a piece of rope. Clean up the end.
- Now I find a strong thread in the pile of roots, the longer the better and start sowing the ropes together that in the end will form a seed container.
- The seed container is ready.
Material Narrative
I was walking near my parent’s house outside the city two years ago when I stumbled up on this plant Lyme grass. I had seen it many times before but with no interest. I took few straws back home and started taking it apart and working with it. Before I went to bed I googled it and found out that Lyme grass is a settlers plant that we used a lot in the past in Iceland. The plant and its parts were used as wheat, as a tablecloth, to make ropes and isolation. Now it is the most powerful soil reclamation plant since the seed can germinate in a black sand where which almost nothing grows. My goal is to inform the islanders about the power of the plant and the need of reclaiming the soil, since one fifth of the island is covered with black sand. I will communicate my project to the public by telling a story through the material itself.
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MaDe, a project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of The European Union, aims at boosting talents towards circular economies across Europe partnering with design and cultural institutions, Elisava, Ma-tt-er and Politecnico di Milano.

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