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Natural Fibres Lab

Aditya Joshi


Aditya Joshi Project: Natural Fibres Lab Project Guide: Janak Mistry Award: B.Des, 2016.


Contents: 1. Natural Fibres Lab

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2. Project abstract

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3. Thoughts on sustainability

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4. Research What is Areca? Growth areas Current uses The leaf sheath Historical Products Ongoing research Field visits Insights

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5. Proposal

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6. Reviews & Feedback

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7. Exploration & Experimentation Techniques & Processes Softening Tubes & Profiles Eyelets & Sewing 8. Ideation Opportunity Spaces Mood boards Sketches & Mock-ups 9. Prototyping Sketches Materials Processes & Tools Assembly

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10. Bag 1, Bag2

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11. Future Scenario

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12. Reflective Statement

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13. References

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14. Acknowledgements

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Natural Fibres Lab Experiments with Areca Leaf Sheath


Natural Fibres Lab

To re-source oneself is to re-generate, re-energize and re-think.

Natural fibre based raw material can provide an exciting alternative for the vibrant crafts industry as well as mainstream industry looking for alternative solutions for packaging and other such applications. An aspect to consider is the one of resources in general and with particular focus on Natural fibres from around the world and locally. The aim is to infuse radical thought on why products made of natural fibres are viewed and valued. Mission: Sustainable Product, Sustainable Future: Sustainable Design (also known as environmental design or environmentally conscious design) is the philosophy of complying with social, economic and ecological viability while designing the products, built environment and services. The intent is to "eliminate negative environmental impact completely through skilful, sensitive design". Research proves that sustainability in product design not only yields anticipated environmental improvements, but drives greater innovation, quality improvement, energy savings, and revenue growth as well. The demand for sustainable products continues to grow and it is becoming increasingly clear that being sustainable can drive new growth that capitalizes on a rising demand for environmentally friendly and energy-efficient products. Consumers today want to know how the products are made, what they are made from, how far they travel, how they are packaged and how empathetic can they be towards the environment.

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Activities: Investigating how one can develop hi-tech products that are considered to be low-tech. The aim is the highlight the potential and strength of natural fibres when the right materials, craft techniques, and industrial processes are combined together. The Natural Fibres Lab works with both industry as well as the crafts sector to develop new natural fibre based materials for end users and industrial applications. Student Engagement: We work with students to help them understand the process of innovation to develop new raw materials with locally available plant based natural fibres. Our work is driven by three primary aspects of any innovation process: Explore: Your own backyard. Find out as much as possible about the plant fibres around you. Map the value chain: where does it come from, how much of it is there and what does it turn into


Experiment: In this process you run into observations and discoveries. Wait with appointing functions, limitations and most important of all postpone design urges. Experiment in a playful way without preset parameters. Evolve: Envision your design by exploring possible applications for the newly developed material. Work in collaboration with craftsmen, Industry or independently and develop prototypes that can be used for product validation. Exploring untapped resources in our ‘backyard’: it is often hard to see the untapped potential of resources closest to you. A way to get cured from this is to do a ‘square mile tour’. Go out and look at everything with ‘new’ eyes and you are sure to find materials, craft and practices that you has taken for granted. These will become your palette and inspiration for your project. People: Janak Mistry - Design Principal Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

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Project Abstract

Natural fibre based raw material can provide an exciting alternative for the vibrant crafts as well as mainstream industry in looking for alternative solutions for packaging and other consumer applications. The Mission: Sustainable Product/System/Service, Sustainable Future: Sustainable Design complies with social, economic and ecological viability while designing products, built environment, Systems and services. The intent is to "minimize or completely eliminate negative environmental impact through skillful and sensitive design". In order to demonstrate this mission the Areca Sheath, one of the many natural resources will be explored throughout this project.

kitchen products and accessories as well as packaging. Your designs may partly be based on using and promoting traditional local craft techniques as well as existing modern industrial processes. You may come up with your own upgrades and improvements in both product and manufacturing process techniques. You can also work with the Palmleather technique, a material upgrade of the Areca sheath that has proven successful, developed by studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. The outcome of this project will be a functional product using areca sheath possibly in combination with other materials in the above mentioned categories. The products will need to be designed with a core understanding of aesthetics, detailing sustainability and socially responsible production for current and upcoming trends.

Based on this abundant raw material you are challenged to create new products with areca sheath possibly in combination with other materials as well in the following product categories:Toys, Stationary and storage, Fashion accessories, disposables, Home and

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Thoughts on sustainability

Introduction: Sustainability, a commonly used term in the current times, has been brought into prominence as a direct result of the ecological exploitation which we at times call development. The usage of the term ‘sustainability’ is as vast as the contexts in which it can be applied. Majority of these contexts are to do with mending the ecological damage caused by human kind. The cost of development has been huge for the human kind and it is now almost impossible to repair the damage. Though, it is possible and necessary to slow the damage in order to ensure our own survival. We as a species are largely dependent on nature. It is this very resource that is threatened by our zeal to achieve more. Development of the human kind and change cannot be stopped but it can be done in a holistic way. Sustainability thus has become a major factor for achieving holistic development.

Perception of sustainability: The perception of sustainability amongst individuals varies greatly; it can be an important defining factor for a persons approach towards sustainability. This can be clearly illustrated by a simple observation of the difference between the lifestyles led by jungle dwelling tribes and city dwellers. The tribes may solely rely on the resources in their immediate surroundings while city dwellers rely on resources from around the world. While making this argument it is important to remember that the two lifestyles differ immensely. It is also noticeable that a city dweller might be more aware about the larger sustainability argument while the tribesmen may not; despite of the huge divide the tribes lead a much more ecologically sustainable lifestyle. People from different societies can make the sustainability argument from innumerable viewpoints but its relevance in all of the contexts stays the same. While the argument about sustainability is a very broad one, it holds great value for designers. Designers have the capability of identifying and

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making changes to existing systems to make them more sustainable, ecologically or otherwise. This also leads to the discovery of newer systems that fit into existing models as interventions. Designers may also draw from obsolete systems and re-contextualize them to fit into the current said scenarios. Amongst the most important resources for a designer is his ‘design process’; it is this process that determines the identification, execution and outcome of an idea. Design process encompasses far more than just a path towards the final product. It covers various aspects that individually stand out as systems. These systems simple or complex contain the methodology a person follows to deal with a specific problem. They work like building blocks of an idea while giving the designer an insight into various aspects about it. Therefore, it becomes important to consciously include the values of sustainability in the design process. The nature of the design process can determine the holistic development of an idea. It affects not only the process but also the entire life cycle of the idea, even after it is no more in the control of a designer. A good design solution should also take into consideration the post life cycle scenario of the solution.


Sustainability in an Indian context: The Indian perception of sustainability has been affected greatly by the general change in sensibilities caused by the changing times. While the change occurs the crafts that were benchmarks of sustainable living in the past are being forgotten. The crafts were originally local businesses that used the local materials and the know-how to create design solutions for the society. They resembled modern sustainable business models quite a bit in terms of the values they created and proposed. The crafts and the way they are modeled around value addition to locally available material and skill offer a lot to learn for the current context. A lot of the value-chains that the crafts utilize are cyclic and even the tiniest details can offer great insights into the core ideas of sustainability.

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Research & Analysis


What is Areca? Growth areas Current uses The leaf sheath Historical Products Ongoing research Field visits Insights

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What is Areca?

Climate: Areca Catechu is the most widely know amongst fifty plus plants belonging to the genus Areca. It is mainly grown for its nut, commonly known as Areca nut or Betel nut. Betel nut is consumed in various forms all around south Asia and is know for its mild psychotropic properties. The nut grows on a palm tree that grows up to 30m tall with leaves up to 2m in length. The petiole of the leaves wraps around the trunk and falls of with the leaf when dry. The stem is marked with scars of fallen leaves as it grows. The fruit which is about 3-5cm in length grows from clustered male and female flowers. Outer layer of the fruit is smooth with a bright orange colour. The hard seed on the inside is covered with a fibrous layer. The palm is often inter-cropped with cocoa, black pepper, coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, clove and citrus.

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Thrives in regions that recieve high rainfall, about 750mm to 1000mm, tempratures between 14-36 degree celcius

Soil type: The palm grows well in a variety of soils. But, thrives best in well drained soils. The pH of the soil should be between acidic to neutral.


1. Palm Leaf 6. Cut-away of the mature 2. Leaf petiole/ sheath fruit revealing the fibre wrapped around the trunk. layer on the outside and 3. Flowers/ fruits in clusters. the seed on the inside. 4. Trunk with scars from 7. The fruit before maturing. fallen leaves. 8. Cluster with some flowers 5. Mature fruit cluster. and immature fruits.

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Growth areas

Areca catechu is believed to be native to Philippines in south-east Asia. The palm has spread across south Asia where it is cultivated for its seed, betel nut. India is the largest consumer and grower of arecanut but, China leads in terms of productivity per hectare of land. Karnataka, Kerala, Assam, Meghalaya, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal are the major arecanut producing states in India.Karnataka is the largest producer of arecanut in India and holds most its major markets and distribution centres. Within Karnataka the districts of Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Tumkur Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada are the major arecanut producers and together account for 60 per cent of the area and 65 per cent of production in the state.

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Current Uses

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The betel nut or arecanut is consumed on a large scale in south Asia. In India popular products such as Paan, Paan masala use arecanut in various forms. The huge demand for these products has turned areca catechu into a commercial cash crop. Various extracts of the seed are used in traditional ayurvedic and modern medicines. Apart from the seed other parts of the palm are used although in a smaller scale. The leaf sheath is used for making the now popular biodegradable disposable plates. In areas where areca catechu is cultivated on a large scale, the trunk is used for construction of house and furniture. Tannin which is a by-product of processing arecanut is a popular natural dye for clothes and tanning leather. 60%-80% of the fruit consists of husk. This husk is mainly used as alternative fuel or a as mulch in farm manure. Husk is also alternatively used as cushioning material on a small scale.

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6 1. Packaged paan masala 2. Paan being prepared 3. Areca leaf plates and cutlery 4. Mulch in farm manure 5. Traditional areca leaf cap 6. A small shop counter made of areca trunk

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The leaf sheath

1045cm

The petiole/ stalk of the areca catechu leaf, otherwise known as areca leaf sheath is an abundant areca catechu by-product. Each palm tree sheds about 5-6 leaves per year resulting in millions of such leaves all over India. Usually treated as farm waste, these leaves are burnt or used as mulch for farm manure. These particularly large leaves were traditionally used to make caps and other small storage containers. These days they’re mainly used to make disposable plates and trays. The inner side of the leaf is covered in a type of skin that is water repellent. This property is used in the plates to hold liquid/semi-liquid foods. The fibrous leaf sheath has fibres that run length wise, giving directional structural strength. The leaf is concave in the centre due to being wrapped around the round trunk Hard and brittle in its natural form the leaf sheath becomes soft and flexible when soaked in water.

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Top layer skin - Thin, smooth top layer - Water repellant - Can be peeled off when wet


30-100cm

Fibre grain / direction - Directional strength - Directional elasticity

Leaf edges - Thicker at the edges - Liquids are soaaked in through the exposed edges - Tapered towards the edges

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Historical Products

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Areca Catechu has been known to man and being cultivated since ancient times. Ancient Asian texts and literature suggest that arecanut was consumed in various forms for a variety of reasons ranging from medical to masticatory. The popularity of arecanut as a mild psychotropic substance led to its cultivation on a huge scale. People and communities based around areca catechu cultivation soon realised the potential in its by-products and put them to good use. One such by-product being the leaf sheath. Images on this page show some of the uses that areca leaf sheath was put to. The object clearly indicate the knowledge of material properties that their makers might have had. In the current times it is difficult to find well preserved examples of historic applications of such a material. The British museum has a small collection of objects made from the areca leaft sheath or leaf spathe as they call it. The objects are listed along with the date and place they were accquired from.

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3 1. Cap, Dakshin Kannada District, 1960. Molded and sewn. 2. Cap, Dakshin Kannada District, 1960. Molded and sewn. 3. Cap, Dakshin Kannada District, 1960. Molded.


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7 4. Lime Container, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, 1897. Bamboo support structure, sewn areca leaf. 5. Basket, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, 1897. Bamboo support structure, sewn areca leaf. 6. Box, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, 1897. Sewn areca leaf 7. Water Container, Larut, Malaysia, 1960. Sewn areca leaf, cane/bamboo support.

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Ongoing research

Areca Catechu has become one of the major commercial plant in India, grown on a huge scale, India is a major producer and consumer of arecanut. Several research institutes all around the country are conducting research to increase the productivity of arecanut and develop applications for its by-products. Wide amount of research has resulted in the development of multiple applications. A lot of these application though need further development in order to be put into production. The popular areca leaf disposable plates and cups were a result of research and development carried out at CFTRI, Mysore. If developed further these applications have the potential to generate much needed employment and diversification of the rural industries. Some of the research and diversified products are listed below: 1. Arecanut contains upto 8% - 12% fat that is characteristically comparable to hydrogenated coconut oil. With some processing arecanut fat can be used in confectioneries. 2. The areca leaf sheath has been experimented on for possible use in ply boards either as plies or as surface laminates.

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3. The husk generated after seperating the nut from the fruit has several interesting properties. It can be processed and used as rubberised boards for mattresses or as fillers for cushions and pillows. It can also be used in fibre reinforced plastics. 4. The leaf sheath and its natural texture and surface finish provide aesthetics that are apt for use in laminates. 5. Experiments show that areca leaf sheath and husk can be pulped to be used in paper boards. These work especially well when blended in 2:1 or 3:1 ratios with recycled paper.


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Field Visit: Dinnerware Factory

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1. Washed areca leaves stacked, ready to be pressed. 2. Plates and bowls being pressed in automatic hydraulic presses. 3. Field outside the factory used for drying the leaves. 4. Off-cuts from the plate making process.

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Location: Shivakote, Karnataka. A small village on the outskirts of Bangalore is home to several micro industries. An areca leaf plate manufacturing unit run by Mr. Fayaz is located about 10 km from Yelahanka. The unit which houses about 15-20 hydraulic presses is managed and run solely by Mr. Fayaz. The raw material is sourced from Hesaraghatta, an area to the north of Bangalore at Rs.2-2.50 per leaf. Mr. Fayaz manufactures plates as per orders he recieves from distributors or wholesellers. He also sells his products in the wholesale market directly. Mr. Fayaz kindly agreed to provide us the raw material needed for our project at the market price. He also explained the whole process in detail. Some of the imporrtant observations made at his factory were the off-cuts left from the plate making process. Mr. Fayaz burns the off-cuts as his factory lacks storage space. These off-cuts if stored can be sold to the cattle fodder industry for a profit.

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Field Visit: Dinnerware making process

Collection

Transport

Drying

- The leaves shed are collected at the plantations.

- Leaves are bundled and transported to the factory

- Further drying is done to ensure quality.

Heat pressing

Stacking

Washing

- Leaves are pressed in a die for about 1-2 minutes. The die heats up to 150Ëšc.

- The washed leaves are stacked to help retain moisture.

- The leaves are washed with a water jet and soaked for 15-30 minutes.

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Automatic areca leaf plate making machine with temprature control.

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Manual areca leaf plate making machine, operated by turning the flywheels on top.

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Field Visit: Local arecanut farm

1. Entrance to the farm. 2. The areca with palms yellow flowers. 3. Bee hives and disposed areca leaves. 4. Drip irrigation pipes.

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Location: Shivakote, Karnataka. On the way to Shivakote, about 2 km before the village lies a cluster of 4-5 small areca catechu farms. Each of these farms are home to about 30-40 areca catechu palms. The farmers live in houses adjoining the farms. The red variety of arecanut is grown here as the climate suits this variety well. The farm we visited was drip irrigated. The farmer substitutes his areca farming with bee keeping. He processes and sells the whole arecanut to wholesellers who then sell it to panmasala or supari companies. The farmer and his family use the areca leaves as plates to eat their food. The used leaves are then thrown out in the farm where they decompose. The husk obtained after processing the nut is used as mulch in manure. A few samples of the whole areca fruit, some nuts and a few leaves were obtained from the farm. The farmer was agreed to provide us with leaves in the future.

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Field Visit: Shimoga

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1. Palm trees 2. Clean leaf & Fungi affected leaf (about 30% leaves are wasted due to fungal growth.) 3. Bottom die for a square plate. 4. Quality check rejects (Note warped shape.)

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Location: Shimog / Shivamogga, Karnataka. Shimoga is a city and the disrict headquarters of the Shimoga district in central Karnataka. The district is at the foot hills of the Western Ghats. This region is know as ‘The gateway of Malnad’. The river Tunga flows through the city. Being located near the Western Ghats this region recieves plenty of rainfall and has lush greenery all around the year. The geographical location and nature of the place makes it one of the largest areca producing region in India. Shimoga is also home to Indias largest arecanut market.The quality of arecanut grown in this region is considered to be amongst the best.

Having manufactured and exported areca leaf plates for a while Mr. Vasant & Mr. Ashok had in-depth knowledge of the market. They were aware of the new market trends and willing to expand their product range and upgrade existing products as per the customer feedback they recieved. The entrepreneurial mindset coupled with industry experience and knowledge of the material offered by these individuals was instrumental in setting the backdrop of this project in terms of need and acceptance. The trip also offered a lot of technical and design realted information through various demonstrations and design exercises conducted by Tjeered. Analysis of processes, the material and its environment were key factors of the visit and its immersion.

The reason for the visit was to study and understand the vitals of areca production and its abundance. We were guided around the town by the prprietors of Folium Pvt. Ltd. a company that manufactures areca leaf plates and PalmLeather footware for Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. Mr. Vasant and Mr. Ashok hold extensive knowledge and experience in the Field of areca products.

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Field Visit: Shimoga

1. Quality check reject (Note the burnt surface, this is caused by over soaking the leaf in water.) 2. Arecanuts seperated from husk. 3. Treated arecanuts. 4. Seperated husk..

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1. De-husking machine. 2. Areca leaf soaked in PalmLeather solution. 3. Flip-flop sewing demo. 4. Soaked leaves being dried.

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Proposal

1. Background: Sustainability is a multi dimensional word used in equally wide contexts. It is now increasingly defining modern practices and striving to cause a change in the systems that define human kind. A large part of the contexts that sustainability is becoming a part of are to do with mending the ecological damage done over the years. The environment that we are a part of comprises all of the resources that we consume or depend on. Most of the human systems be it society or economics largely depend on the environment for sustenance. These systems that govern human existence are increasingly threatened by their very own inefficiency. The situation faced is a problematic one and the damage done is irreparable. This gives rise to the need for figuring out ways of holistic development, of cyclic systems that use the resources not only to their capacity but also to the right function and to the right extent. Their cyclic nature ensures they feed back into the system not as waste but as a resource. Areca palms are widely grown for their nut. It is a major cash crop in w. The palms shed 5-6 leaves a year, which, are let out to rot in the fields or used as firewood. In the recent years areca leaf plates have become popular in the market. They are fully biodegradable, compostable and can hold hot and cold liquid or solid food efficiently. Areca leaf plates are a great alternative to foam or laminated paper plates. The value created around a waste material like areca leaves holds great importance in the current scenario, it is sustainable in many ways. Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven added further value to the material with their Palm Leather project. They discovered a way of processing the dry, brittle leaves to give them properties similar to that of leather.

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This kind of value addition to a material opens up new avenues for product development with natural materials that carry low embodied energy. Work done over the several Natural Fibers projects at Srishti are evidence enough to show the promise this material holds for further development.

2. My Position: As an Industrial Designer in the current times it is crucial to locate my practice within the sphere of sustainability. To achieve holistic development it is necessary for the design process to be influenced by the ideals of sustainability. Materials are of great importance to a designer; their availability and characteristics largely influence or at times dictate the process a designer follows. As a designer being able to play with materials and alter their properties gives me great joy. It also holds the promise of figuring out new techniques or material types that can broaden their use. Use of the right materials and techniques in the right context is also an important factor that needs to be addressed and is particularly challenging when using a relatively new and alternate material like the areca leaf sheath. 3. Brief: Explore and experiment with areca leaf sheath, a material that offers new opportunities for product development. The experiments aim at altering the material by either combining it with other materials and hardware or processing it to obtain certain properties. These experiments can be developed into techniques that can be integrated into existing crafts or micro enterprises as means of product manufacturing.


4.Action Plan: 4.1. Research: Extensive research in various fields needs to be conducted to get a broad understanding of the material, its properties and other statistics like growth patterns, quantity etc. The research also needs to back the contextualization of the design. A sound understanding of the vitals will lead to a betterexecuted design process. It might also be necessary to conduct research midway through the process to support experiments. The research can be conducted in phases. Each of the phases could have guidelines laid out to narrow the topics down.

4.2. Experimentation: The insights obtained through the research lead to the experimentation phase where various techniques to alter the material can be tried out. Objectives in terms of material properties can be set out and experiments carried out to achieve the same. A fair amount of research also needs to be conducted at this stage as mentioned in the previous section. 4.3. Exploration: The result of the experimentation stage translates into the exploration phase where product ideas are generated. This stage happens simultaneously with the previous one. Ideas need to be based on the contextual research done earlier. 4.4. Prototyping:

Primary Research: - Market research that includes analysis of existing products and a broad understanding of craft and natural material products already available in the market. - Study of the local crafts that can be exploited for product development. - Study of local production areas for sourcing material and skilled artisans. Secondary Research: - General understanding of sustainability related trends and topics. - Understanding of sustainable models, processes and systems. - Study of areca in contexts such as history, biology, geography, present research done etc. - Existing areca products and related processes. - Study of various techniques that can be possibly combined with areca.

The experimentation stage leads to the prototyping stage where product ideas can be prototyped and tested. This stage involves the right contextualization of the products. A major part of this stage also includes devising the right kind of production techniques and related activities that lead to the development of systems and business models that revolve around the product. All these phases undergo a process of contextual testing leading to the final user tests for validation. 4.5. Documentation: The documentation stage includes consolidation of all of the work and presenting it in an understandable format. Documentation is carried out throughout the duration of the project and should offer a clear picture of the entire process followed.

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5. Materials & Resources: Areca leaf sheath being the major resource needs to be sourced locally. It is mainly used for making disposable plates and local manufacturing units have been identified to source material. A few small areca fields and a manufacturing unit are operational in and around the Shivakote village about 10km from Yelahanka New Town. The growth patterns and byproducts can be observed at the farm. A 2-day trip to Shimoga was instrumental in giving information about areca production, processes and environment. Proprietors of Folium Pvt. Ltd, Shimoga, Mr. Suresh and Mr. Vasant provided us with important information about the properties and processes related to altering the material. They also provided certain insights to the current market and future possibilities for areca leaf sheath products. Vast amounts of academic research about the possibilities areca has to offer are available over the Internet. Most of it concentrates around using byproducts of areca like husk, sheath etc. Most of the alternative uses are in experimental stages though. Other materials and hardware needed for prototyping and building iterations can be sourced locally. Prototyping tools and jigs for altering the leaf sheath can be made in the workshop or can be outsourced if required.

6. Research Questions: - How does my perception of sustainability fit into this project, how does it influence the process and the outcome. - How can the areca leaf sheath, with its intrinsic

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material properties fit into the current craft scenario. Can it replace materials while retaining the techniques? - As a designer in the current times what value can I create for areca and the people involved with it. - What contexts can value be created for. - How can design interventions influence post product life-cycle systems.

7. Learning outcome: Natural fibers project mainly deals with understanding a material to core. In this case the Areca leaf sheath. A material not only needs to be understood for its properties, it needs to be studied for its source, the way it affects communities and societies around it, the way it is perceived, the way its lifecycle affects or influences different sets of people who are involved with it. Moreover, it is people that make and use a material thus; it is of great importance to understand the people involved with the material. Through this project I intend on creating guidelines for a process that deals with understanding new materials and using them in the right context. The learning outcomes will be re-defined through the duration of the project. The process would be instrumental in obtaining skills and experience in material development from a design perspective.


Brief: Explore and experiment with areca leaf sheath, a material that offers new opportunities for product development. The experiments aim at altering the material by either combining it with other materials and hardware or processing it to obtain certain properties. These experiments can be developed into techniques that can be integrated into existing crafts or micro enterprises as means of product manufacturing.


Reviews & Feedback

Seminar 1: 16th February, 2016.

Seminar 2: 17th March, 2016.

Panel: Aishwarya Iyengar, Meera Curam, Janak Mistry.

Panel: Aishwarya Iyengar, Meera Curam, Janak Mistry.

Feedback:

Feedback:

1. Look into fabric calendering machines for pressing areca leaves.

1. Explore with cylindrical surfaces and profiles for home decor products.

2. Look into various products like ‘Barck Cloth’ for inspiration on processes.

2. Try direct dyes for coloring areca leaves. 3. Use paper mock-ups for bags.

3. Study the current processes associated with areca leaves for further development.

4. Try bending areca rods and tubes. 5. Looking into the usage of a product as means of product development.

Bottom: One of the skype feedback sessions.

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Review 1: 26th February, 2016.

Review 2: 29th March, 2016.

Panel: Tjeerd Veenhoven, Simone Larabi, Janak Mistry

Panel: Tjeerd Veenhoven, Simone Larabi, Janak Mistry

Feedback:

Feedback:

1. Try out other ideas with eyelets.

1. Create more samples and explore more techniques with the leather hardware. Bigger eyelets, different kinds.

2. Explore various material modifications to go along with eyelets and similar techniques. 3. Look at usage of various eyelets in different kinds of products. 4. How do eyelets work in combination with other material.

2. Try using plamleather samples with other leather hardware. 3. Explore more in terms of aesthetic quality of the tubes and rods and their combination with leather hardware and other processes. 4. Make the approach more aesthetic based rather than engineering or strcture based. 5. Challenge the application context of the material and exploit its aesthetic properties added to the physical properties.

Review 3: 8th April, 2016.

Review 4: 15th April, 2016.

Panel: Surbhi Singhal

Panel: Tjeerd Veenhoven, Simone Larabi, Janak Mistry

Feedback: Feedback: 1. Look at giving areca leaf more prominence in design. 2. Reduce the use of fabric.

1. Position the product in the right context. 2. Use the processes and the techniques involved to locate the market position of the product.

3. Study strap linking hardware.

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Exploration & Experimentation


Techniques & Processes Softening Tubes & Profiles Eyelets & Sewing Other Explorations

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Techniques & Processes

Softening & Moulding 1. Palm Leather 2. Water 2.a. Washing 2.b. Soaking and moulding. 3. Heat press.

Sewing & Weaving 1. Weaving strips, profiles with other materials. 2. Cross layering 3. Laminating 4. Seam folds

Bamboo mats are made by weaving bamboo rods with strings. Some of the techniques and processes possible with areca leaves are listed here. The images are examples of products or objects made with similar techniques or a combination of techniques. Use of these techniques and explorations with the areca leaf are illustrated further in this book.

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Roll up Rods & Pipes 1. Hollow pipes 2. Soild rods 3. Profiles

Eyelets & Leather Hardware 1. Punching holes, patterns. 2. Snap buttons 3. Eyelets

Furniture made from

Laminar armours use

rolled up newspapers

the the technique

uses the flexibility

of sewing leather

and and the stength

peices for flexibility

created by layering.

and strength.

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Softening

Top: Areca leaves soaked in the PalmLeather solution.

The areca leaf has a remarkable property of softening into a flexible leather like material when soaked in water. When the water dries out, the leaf becomes hard and brittle again. This property can be used in applications that require moulding. It is also used in the plate making process. At times though, it would be desirable to have the leaf remain permanently flexible. This problem has been solved by the Palm Leather solution made by Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. Through research and experiments the studio has figured out a way to soak the leaves in a special solution and permanently soften it. The resulting material is called PalmLeather because of its properties that are similar to leather. It can be worked on or altered using current techniques and tools. It does not require any specialized equipment.

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Softening Process:

Collecting

Washing

Drying

- The leaves shed are collected at the plantations.

- The leaves are washed with water.

- Washed leaves are dried in shade.

Cutting/Peeling

Drying

Soaking

- The leaves are then cut to size or peeled to thin them out.

- The soaked leaves are dried in shade. And are ready to be used.

- The dry leaves are soaked in the PalmLeather solution for 2-3 days.

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Top: Ideas for palm leather footware Overleaf: Ideas for areca leaf food containers.

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Tubes & Profiles

Top: Aluminum pipes and profile eextrusions

The directional fibre grain on the leaves allows it to be naturally curved. This propety when used to make tightly rolled rods and tubes imparts great longitudinal strength. The fibres running along the length of the rods and tubes also give a certain aesthetic appeal. These rods and tubes are not only strong but also lightweight. When rolled there is always a seam where the roll ends. To make the seam look better different profiles were explored. The explorations led to expanding into opportunity spaces where this technique could be used.

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Rods & Tubes Process:

Selecting

Washing

Soaking

- Leaves with the most straight grain are selected.

- The leaves are then washed with water.

- Leaves are soaked in water for about 30 minutes.

Drying

Rolling

Cutting

- The rods and tubes are secured in place and dried.

- The cut pieces are rolled tightly for rods. or - Rolled around pipes of desired diameter for tubes.

- The soaked soft leaves are cut to size.

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1

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1. Channel for slotting pipes. 2. Slotting pipes with a router. 3. Seamless areca tube being dried over a slotted pipe. 4. Areca rods (Note overalpping seam.)

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1. Areca tube (Note seam) 2. Areca tube with eyelets near edges. 3. Seamless areca tubes linked with flexible wire. 4. Wire linked seamless areca tubes with PVC end caps to protect edges.

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Eyelets & Sewing

Top: Different kinds of eyelets on display in a shop

PalmLeather is in many ways similar to leather. It is unevenly thick across the leaf cross-section which causes a problem while using for different applications. While looking for places with leather skiving machines to thin out palmleather, I stumbled upon a shop that stocked eyelets and other leather hardware. I bought a few eyelets and used them on some palmleather samples. The eyelets secured firmly to palmleather without tearing through. PalmLeather is bound to size constraints as the areca leaves grow only up to a certain size. This problem can be solved by creating simple linkages between eyeleted patches of palmleather. Stringing palmleather pieces together also increases its structural strentgh. Eyletting or punching leather is a centuries old technique that can be used with a modern materials like palmleather to create numerous possibilities.

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Eyelet setting and sewing Process:

PalmLeather

Templates

Cutting

- Palmleather sheets are selected.

- Cutting and hole punching template is set on to the palmleather.

- The sheets are cut to size.

Sewing

Templates

Punching holes

- Multiple eyeleted pieces are linked by stringing them together.

- Eyelets are set into the holes with a setting tool.

- Holes are punched according to the eyelet size.

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1. From L to R: Long eyelets, Brass eyelets, Steel eyelets. 2. Various leather punches. 3. Eyelet & Snap button setting tools 4. The eyelet setting process.

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1. Round brass eyelets 2. Steel eyelets 3. Hexagonal brass eyelets 4. Steel oval eyelets

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1, 2, 3, 4: Various ways of stringing pieces together. (Number 1 shows pinching because of horizontal fibre direction.) (Number 4 works the best because it takes the least amount of overlapping space and is the strongest amongst the others.)

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1

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1. Single line stringing. (Note the edges prone to fraying.) 2. Edge rolled up to add stiffness & strength. 3. Edge folded and secured with long eyelets to prevent fraying. 4. Diagonal double line stringing is stronger & aesthetically better than single-line stringing.

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Other Explorations

1. Manual skiving machine for areca leaf strips. 2. Thickness adjusting nut. 3. Regular craft knife blade. 4. Leather skiving tool used with palmleather.

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1

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1. Black direct dye. 2. Preparing the dye. 3. Washing areca leaf pieces after dyeing. (Note the lighter side catches the dye, the dark one does not.) 4. Dyed areca leaf samples.

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Other Explorations

Top: Neem Leaves

Areca catechu leaves are prone to catching fungi which renders it useless. This is a major issue as one infected leaf can infect others while in storage. About 30% to 40% of areca leaves get spoilt in storage due to fungi. Neem which is a known natural anti-fungal and antibacterial is available in various forms for various applications. Water soluble neem oil is a popular antifungal used on plants. I conducted an experiment to use the anti-fungal properties of neem for protecting areca leaves from fungi. Washing and soaking in water are parts of the general areca leaf processing where neem oil can be introduced. For washing the areca leaves I used a solution of water and neem oil in the ratio of 4-5 capfuls of neem oil for a bucket of water.

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After soaking the leaves in the neem oil solution and drying them, they were stored with leaves affected with fungi. Two weeks later the neem soaked leaves did not show fungal growth. This discovery is important as it can reduce material wastage drastically. The new process is not a completely different process and can be an integrated with the current process to reduce wastage due to fungi.


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1. Water soluble neem oil for plants. 2. Areca leaf pieces soaked in neem oil and water solution. 3. Neem oil treated samples after 2 weeks of being stored with fungal samples. 4. Un-treated samples after 2 weeks.

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Ideation


Opportunity spaces Moodboards Sketches & Mock-ups

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Opportunity spaces

Softening & Moulding 1. Palm Leather 2. Water 2.a. Washing 2.b. Soaking and moulding. 3. Heat press.

The opportunity spaces in terms of products opened up from the explorations. The challenge was deciding the most appropriate and justified use of the areca leaf sheath. Various criteria for selection were, the processes involved, the time taken for processing or production, the tools needed, the aesthetics and least amount of material wastage. Processes involved had to be such that they could be executed by people with no special training or tools. The time factor becomes important when it comes to productivity. The tools required need to be simple and require as little maintenance as possible. Even though areca leaves are an abundant material, it is not advisable to waste material. Therefore, one of the most important factors of the processes was to ensure minimum wastage. Areca leaves have aesthetically appealing surfaces that can be enhanced by various processes it goes through. It was necessary to make sure that the processes enhance and not overshadow the aesthetic natural surafce of areca leaves.

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Sewing & Weaving 1. Weaving strips, profiles with other materials. 2. Cross layering 3. Laminating 4. Seam folds


Roll up Rods & Pipes 1. Hollow pipes 2. Soild rods 3. Profiles

Furniture, DIY building kits, Picture frames,

Eyelets & Leather Hardware 1. Punching holes, patterns. 2. Snap buttons 3. Eyelets

Modular bags, DIY kits, Containers, Baskets, Jewelry.

Lamps, Partition Screens, Bags, Baskets, Blinds.

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Mood Boards

1. Wood blinds 2. Room Partition by Nakamura Co. 3. DIY modular pendant lamp 4.Wood basket by Barber’s Handmade

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1. Aluminum channel frames 2. Clip picture frame 3. Room Partition by Nakamura Co. 4. Snap button modular bag by Helen Kwok

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Sketches & Mock-ups

Picture Frames:

The natural elasticity of areca laeaves across the grain coupled with the form of seamless tubes works in a way similar to channel picture frames. The outer color and grain on the leaf surface gives the tubes an aesthetically pleasing natural appearance. Areca leaf tubes are lightweight which is an added feature that trumps over heavy metal or wooden frames. These picture frames would be a good alternative to plastic and paper picture frames usually given as souvenirs at hotels, resorts, tourist attractions and amusement parks.

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Sketches & Mock-ups

Modular Bags:

Eyelets and PalmLeather is a combination of materials and hardware that gives a huge number of possibilities. Eyelets allow the palmleather peices to be strung together to create bigger surfaces. Moreover, the stringing provides palmleather with additional structural strength. This technique can be applied to objects that need to be modular with respect to easy production. Bags are one such product. They come in various shapes and sizes, areca leaf does not. The right sized peices of areca when strung together in various formats can allow for an easy way of

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manufacturing bags owing o its modular nature. Eyelets are available in a wide variety of sizes, colors, shapes and material. The right combination of eyelets and areca can yeild a well crafted, aesthetically appealing product that can be targetted towards the fashion accessories market that is always on the look out for a new aesthetic. The appeal of palmleather also lies in its sustainable nature. Being sourced from plants it can be aptly called ‘Vegan Leather’ as suggested by Tjeered Veenhoven.


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1

2

1. Mockup bag 1: Made with with 3 palmleather pieces a side. 2. Sides are potential weak spots. 3. Areca base on the bag. (Note the gap between layers)

3

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1

2

1. Mockup bag 2: Made with 3 palmleather pieces strung together in a circular form. 2. Stringing detail: Diagonals take up less overlapping space and offer added strength. 3. Wood Base: A strong, hard base makes the bag sturdier and helps retain form.

3

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Detailing


Concept & Sketches Materials Processes & Tools Assembly

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Concept & Sketches

After studying the mockups and analyzing various kinds of bags, it was noted that totes and certain sling bags are generally available in similar sizes. This gives scope for the modular pieces being used across different bag platforms. The modular pieces have to be designed in a way that they can be used across different bag styles. The palmleather pieces have to be used along with other materials for added structural strength and aesthetics.

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Materials

1. Kora Canvas 2. Eyelets 3. PalmLeather 4.Cotton twill tape

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1

2

3

4


Processes & Tools

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1. Preparing canvas pieces with iron on stiffner. 2. Sewing the canvas pieces 3. Punching and setting eyelets 4. Stringing the palmleather pieces together

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Assembly

Bag 1:

1

2 1. Fabric sides and base for added structure and strength. 2. The modular sides 3. Modular sides being attached to the fabric sides.

3

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Bag 2:

1

2 1. The parts ready to be assembled. 2. Modular sides and bases being attached to the fabric side panel. 3. Stringing on the side panels.

3

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Bag 1

1

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3


4 1. Assembled bag with sling strap. 2. Detail of the strap and the sides. 3. G-hook for easily attaching the strap. 4. Assembled bag with tote handle 5. Tote handle with G-hooks.

Fabric parts are prominent in this prototype. The second prototype gives more prominence to PalmLeather. The G-hooks in the strap and the handle allow for easy strap change.

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Bag 2

1 1. Assembled bag with tote handle. 2. G-hook handle on the tote handle. 3. Assembled bag with sling strap. 4. Detail of the basse. 5. Base detail.

The second prototype gives more prominence to PalmLeather. The base palmleather pieces is laminated with fabric for added strength. The piping on the sides protect the palmleather panels from fraying.

2

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Future Scenario

Eyeleting as a technique used with palmleather or areca leaves gives enormous product possibilities. It gives the ability to create big surfaces out of palmleather, a material with dimensional restrictions. The technique is easy to learn and can be used by people with little to no experience. The ease of use gives a large scope for development of the technique as a craft form. The craft oriented nature of the technique creates multiple opportunities for craftsmen to develop new products that fill market gaps while still being socially responsible. The technique can be diversified into various opportunity spaces like home decor personal & fashion accessories or even simple products like baggage tags.

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As a designer, having worked with this incredible material opens up future possibilities for product and system development. It also sets the guidelines for an exploratory approach to understanding materials.


Reflective Statement

Ecological exploitation generally denotes a negative impact on the ecology mainly caused by un-sustainable development. Sustainability and sustainable design usually look at developing ways to minimize ecological exploitation but it is ecological exploitation of the right kind that stands as an answer to the problems faced. Areca leaf, a material considered as farm waste has been able to offer opportunities for value creation that have been exploited to minimize un-sustainable ecological damage. Areca leaf disposable plates in comparison to plastic disposable plates are a befitting example of creating or rather discovering value in an otherwise ‘waste’ material. Further material exploration and experimentation like the Palm Leather project by Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven not only expands the possiblities of a material but stands as an example of value creation while ensuring social and ecological development. The society we live in largely depends on the ecology around it for sustenance therefore, it is necessary to create a balance between the two through whatever means possible. This project has been instrumental in making me question and discover new frontiers in holistic development which, according to me is a need of the hour. While playing my part as a designer in this complex system it gives me great joy to indulge in studying new materials that can bring about social and ecological change while maintaining a balance between the two. The process of finding the said balance is an endless one and is a great learning experience. This project shall remain on my mind owing to its endless nature and its huge capability of imparting knowledge. Natural fibres lab and my engagement with the areca leaf sheath has surely set me on a journey to dicover value creation possibilites in the tiniest and the most inconspicuous things around me.

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References

Research Papers: 1. Areca catechu Arecaceae L. - World Agroforestry Centre 2. Arecanut; D. Balasimha, V. Rajagopal; Kasargod, Kerala. October 2004. 3. Non-farm income from non-wood forest products; Elanie Marshall, Cherukat Chandrasekharan. Rome. 2009. 4. Application of Natural Fibre Composites in the Development of Rural Societies; K. van Rijswijk, W.D. Brouwer, Prof. A. Beukers. Rome, 2009. Websites: 1. http://www.tssindia.in/about-areca/uses-of-areca. html 2. http://dasd.gov.in/index.php/arecanut.html 3. https://www.erowid.org/plants/betel/betel.shtml 4. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_ online/search.aspx?searchText=areca&page=1 5. http://www.nfcdesign.org/?lang=en Image Sources: 1. Midushi Kochhar: Cover, Project Abstract, Shimoga Field Visit. 2. Agrim Singhal: What is areca? 3. Wikimedia Commons: Natural Fibres Lab, Thoughts on sustainability, Current uses, Ongoing research, Techniques & Processes, Future Scenario, Other Explorations. 4. Pg.17: http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/FloraIllustration/ foci23/foci23-201.jpg Icons: 1. Temprature & Rain: Iconmonstr 2. Cut: Created by Od from Noun Project 3. Stack: Created by Tony Michiels from Noun Project 4. Truck: Created by Eugen Belykoff from Noun Project 5. Roll: Created by JMA from Noun Project 6. Palm tree: Created by misirlou from Noun Project 7. Faucet: Created by parkjisun from Noun Project 8. Sun: Created by Cargi Yurtbasi from Noun Project 9. Waterbowl: Created by lastspark from Noun Project

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10. Press: Created by ImageCatalog from Noun Project 11. Eyelet: Created by Lubos Volkov from Noun Project 12. Shoelaces: Created by Jasper Reyes from Noun Project 13. Hole Punch: Created by Blaise Sewell from Noun Project 14. Template: Created by Myly from Noun Project


Acknowledgements

The list of people who deserve to be thanked is long as I have recieved help, guidance, feedback and inspiration from a number of sources. Janak Mistry for being patient and making me question things throughout. Tjeerd Veenhoven for his wonderful and jolly company in Shimoga and for making this project possible. Meera Curam, Aishwarya Iyengar, Surabhi Singhal and Simone Larabi for their feedback and encouragement. Mr. Vasant and Mr. Ashok for imparting valuable first hand knowldge about areca. My peers Midushi, Yohan and Agrim for constantly being inspiring companions and sharing thoughts and meals through the duration of this project. Lastly all my friends and family who have supported me through all the stages of my life.

Made Possible by:

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Natural Fibre Lab Project Document  

A detailed documentation of my experiments with the areca leaf sheath.

Natural Fibre Lab Project Document  

A detailed documentation of my experiments with the areca leaf sheath.

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