Nature has long inspired artists and designers, a tradition 34-year-old Dutch designer Merel Karhof is keeping alive by using wind as her muse. Karhof seeks to visualize what wind power can create and her latest project is an engineering ingenuity: a completely wind-powered furniture factory called Windworks that churns out a collection of fine minimalist chairs.
The factory is a collaboration with color mill De Kat, saw mill Het Jonge Schaap and Karhof’s own wind-knitting factory. Wind currents power the entire process: Karhof harnessed the free and inexhaustible energy for the saw mill to cut the wood, while the knitting windmill makes pastel-colored cushions as chair upholstery out of wool dyed at the nearby De Kat.
“This mobile wind factory illustrates a production process and it visualizes what you can produce with the present urban wind,” she told Gizmodo Australia, which notes that her factory also came with a hinged pennon device that helped slow the machine down when it was spinning too fast—thus achieving almost complete autonomy.
The project has its roots in Karhof’s first wind knitting factory in 2010. The designer built a 4-foot windmill at the Royal College of Art in London where she used to study, and attached it to an industrial loom, which knitted scarves and other textiles that she harvested every day or two. Production time varied with wind strength and each scarf, for sale on her website, came with a tag that showed how long it took the wind to knit and the date it was created.
Karhof now plans to tour her latest Windworks factory around the world. When the Times asked if she would eventually return to The Netherlands from London, she said that it really depended, naturally, on “where the wind blows.”