2021 has been the year of the burlap coffee bag. Whereas in the past, we’ve seen jute used to transport green coffee get a second life as handbags and satchels and even stuffed animals, 2021 was when the jute bag got its shine. First it was the stunningly colorful green coffee bags from exporter Raw Material and then later in the year burlap found its way into maybe the greatest coffee sneaker ever made. And now, one artist is completely rethinking the textile, transforming the often-rough coffee bag material into soft furniture.
As reported by Dezeen, the reimagining of the humble coffee bag is the work of Rosana Escobar, a graduate of the Design Academy Eindhoven in The Netherlands. Titled “Unravelling the Coffee Bag,” Escobar alters fique fibers from the agave plant—the textile used to make coffee bags in Colombia, as opposed to traditional jute—by “unravelling the woven fabric to create hair-like fibers,” creating a “kind of fluff” that can then be repurposesd into felt. Herself originally from Bogota, Escobar then uses the felt material to create benches, stools, and rugs.
Escobar is using her project as a means to showcase new and alternative uses for fique, whose primary use to make coffee bags that often get thrown away after one use.
“This is a huge industry that completely relies on another industry – it relies on the industry of coffee – and this makes this material very vulnerable,” Escobar explains in a video.
“I wanted to give a voice to this material, to produce new products that could give new narratives and could make us connect with the fibre differently.”
The results are pieces completely unrecognizable from their source material. Whereas most items made with repurposed coffee bags have a sort-of rustic quality, Escobar’s works are elegant and inviting. Unlike most jute/fique textiles, you actually want to feel the transformed fabric.
Escobar’s work highlights new potential for used green coffee bags. Whereas the material they are made of is cheap and durable, it is not particularly aesthetic. The transformation of fique by Escobar completely upends what the textile can be.
Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.
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