Forgotten Wools

The Forgotten Wools project is exploring the wool industry by broadening its scope of possible applications, and by facilitating interdisciplinary exchange. This project studies the attributes of local wool and conducts research into innovative materials. In order to contribute to this historic local industry, the Forgotten Wools network connects many stakeholders, from farmers to designers.

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Repurposing wool as an innovative resource and strengthening the historic local Arles Merino wool industry.

Arles has a long history as a wool-producing region. Today, Arles Merino sheep are primarily raised for meat, so wool has become a coproduct. With the Forgotten Wools project, Atelier LUMA identifies undervalued stocks of wool by investigating and mapping the bioregion, then develops applications for wool that benefit the economy, the environment, and local stakeholders.

Focusing on all levels of the wool industry, the project creates and encourages collaborations within its network of shepherds, Merino sheep farmers, craftspeople, research labs, and industry members.

In the textile sector, Atelier LUMA is highlighting Merino wool’s remarkable thermal, moisture regulation and absorption properties by contributing to integrating Arles Merino wool into an interregional network of partner companies specialized in dyeing, spinning, weaving, and knitting. In Atelier LUMA’s Textile Lab, production using tufting, spinning, tapestry, and knitting techniques is underway, and research into color and dyes is in progress through the Color Geographies project.

In order to develop innovative applications for wool, Atelier LUMA’s researchers and designers are also studying its mechanical, structural, and molecular attributes in depth. Going beyond textiles, techniques such as felting, polymerization, and hybridization with other materials are allowing Arles wool to be featured in new industries, such as architecture.

Forgotten Wools aims to restore the relationship that wool production has with its environment. Quality Merino wool is produced by shepherds who practice transhumance, or seasonal migration. From the Arles region to Piedmont in Italy, the herds’ journeys create trails and impact the landscape. The Forgotten Wools project explores the strong connection between this textile culture and its bioregion, with a view toward promoting local know-know and contributing to its broader recognition.

Project team

  • Atelier LUMA

    Arles, France

  • Le Mas Thibert

    Le Mas Thibert, France

  • Association Merilainos

    Reillanne, France

  • A.T.E.L.I.E.R

    France

  • Ecole du Merle

    Salon de Provence, France

  • Maison de la Transhumance

    Salon de Provence, France

  • Le Passe Trames

    Payrin-Augmontel, France

  • Sfate et Combier

    Sfate et Combier, France

  • Plo Ennoblisseur

    Aussillon, France

  • Atelier Laines d'Europe

    Saint-Chaffrey, France

  • Biella The Wool Company

    Miagliano, Italy

  • NATURFASERN

    Switzerland

  • Tricolor Group

  • Master of Science "Strategy & Design for the Anthropocene"

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