Woven Image - using recycled plastic to transform interiors

Woven Image - using recycled plastic to transform interiors

Woven Image's EchoPanel is a brilliant lightweight material with myriad uses. It comes in stunning colours and patterns, it's eco-friendly - and it's got great acoustic properties too. Time to get creative!

By Abby Trow
Pendant space dividing EchoPanel panels can be suspended from thin wires

Woven Image is an award-winning environmentally responsible surface coverings manufacturer. Based in Sydney, one of its key products is its sound-absorbing EchoPanel, a hugely versatile material made from 60 per cent post-consumer PET plastic bottles which is 100 per cent recyclable. It comes in various thicknesses, lots of gorgeous colours and patterns and all you need to do is use your imagination. Pictured above: Pendent Splayed, 2400mmx12mm Echopanels, suspended from ceiling. Choose from 20 colours. One kit comprises 1 cut panel and 1 hanging component kit, which weighs 6.4kg. *EchoPanel products are Global Green Tag certified. 

Woven Image products are available to buy in the UK from The Collective. Pricing guide - 1.2 x 2.4m panel costs around £150.

 

Sharing an office but long for a bit of privacy? Living in a flat with noisy people above you? Perhaps your children are sharing a bedroom and want to mark out clearly which is THEIR side of the room? Or maybe you're living or working in a place that's full of hard surfaces and the acoustics leave a lot to be desired? These are all situations, says Woven Image's Kate Ingram, where EchoPanel can help, whether you use it in panel, screen, peel-n-stick tile or ultra thin Mura 'wallpaper' form.

Woven Image ready-made screens (Paling, Platoon, Wrap) for example, are super lightweight and easy to fold up when you don't need them. They're useful in so many situations: to divide a bedroom into 'my side' and 'your side' in the case of warring siblings; while an open-plan kitchen/diner/siting room will benefit from delineating the zones. Or use the panels in offices where you can't hear yourself think, because walls can be clad with EchoPanel, or it can be used as desk dividers which not only look good but will absorb sound. As do EchoPanel tiles, which can be used on ceilings as well as walls.

EchoPanel sells in huge quantities in Australia, where Woven Image is based, and this family-owned company is on a mission to introduce it to Brits as a fun, versatile, practical and highly eco-friendly contemporary material for home and office use.

'EchoPanel represents eco innovation in the truest sense'

EchoPanel comes in the form of peel-n-stick acoustic tiles. Choose form a wide range of patterns and colours.  Mura Tile Strobe is shown here. One box contains 8 x50cm2 tiles, 13mm thick
Colours galore!
Panels on walls and a panel is cut as a desk divide to provide visual and acoustic benefit
Loft apartments with bare brick walls will benefit from sound absorbing materials such as EchoPanel
EchoPanel Mura is an alternative to paper wallpaper. It's 1.9mm which and is Global GreenTag certified
Use EchoPanel in different colours as modern art...that comes with the perk of being sound absorbing
Mix HP polyester fabric, made in China, designed by Bang Design, with the Paling EchoPanel screen in dark grey
Platoon acoustic EchoPanel screen - 12mm thick

Eco credentials

For the growing number of us whose first question is 'what's it made from?', one of EchoPanel's many appealing qualities is that fact that it's made from 60 per cent recycled PET plastic and 40 per cent virgin PET, and is 100 per cent recyclable. (And in case you're wondering why it's not made from 100 per cent recycled plastic, the answer is it needs the virgin plastic element for stability and durability.)

'There is growing universal pressure to work sustainably and to meet stringent quality standards at the same time,' says Ingram. 'EchoPanel was developed in direct response to this and it represents eco-innovation in the truest sense.' In other words what Woven Image has done is take a waste material and make a superior product from it - upcycling at its best.  

'We're very proud to be keeping plastic out of landfill,' says Ingram. 'I mean, in 2015 we saved more than 283 tonnes of PET plastic from going to landfill, which equates to 10 million 1L bottles and this year we'll exceed those numbers.'

A term you may not be familiar with is 'dematerialisation' but EchoPanel, which was launched back in 2004, is a dematerialised product. Which means it doesn't need other materials to make it work. So it's made from compressed PET plastic fibres which are coloured with non-toxic eco friendly inks and it's ready to go - it doesn't need painting, priming, weather-proofing or stain guarding, nor do you need to pad it or clad it.

(And another huge advantage to it, too is that it's pinnable - so pin your memos, invitations, kids' drawings, postcards to it wherever it is and you won't damage it.)

In Australia Woven Image runs a take-back scheme because after 'about 15 years, the panels might be showing a bit of wear and tear and need replacing,' says Ingram. 'We collect and reprocess them, and we will run a take-back scheme in the UK/Europe when sales quantities make it viable to do that.'

Acoustics

Ingram says EchoPanel's acoustic properties are its other USP - as well as its good looks (it looks and feels like a textile), affordability and versatility when it comes to applications. Acoustics is a complex topic but WI has developed the material to achieve NRC - Noise Reduction Coefficient - ratings, which do obviously differ according to thickness. Panels are made in 7,12 and 24mm thicknesses and they allow you to what you might call improve the acoustic comfort of a space. 

Ingram explains that it's unwanted sounds that make a place acoustically uncomfortable and we notice when a room's acoustics are weak because sounds reverberate and it can be hard to hold a conversation. Or in spaces that are full of hard surfaces - tiles, metal, glass - sound pings around because there's nothing to absorb it and the sound you get can be echoey or shrill. 'So architects and interior designers do need to think about acoustics at the outset of a project,' says Ingram, who adds that while EchoPanel won't soundproof a room, if you're in a block of flats with noisy people above you, it can help: 'You can use it to clad a ceiling and it will reduce the noise coming down into your space.'

Designs are funky, colourful and designed to complement the solid EchoPanel colours
CNC cutting machines can quickly achieve the panel shapes you want
12mm Splice tiles can make stunning patterns. 8 tiles to a pack and just peel off the back paper and adhere to the wall, door, ceiling..couldn't be easier!
Mura wall covering is applied like normal wallpaper. It has the feel of a fabric and offers an acoustic helping hand
Ripple design in red and white for EchoPanel
Peel and stick Penta 12mm tiles can be used to stunning effect..and again they work to absorb sound
Splice tiles have a straight or curved line groove for making funky patterns

EchoPanel is a practical and decorative contemporary material that once you start thinking about how to use it, ideas will come thick and fast. A recent addition to the product portfolio are packs of Splice tiles, which have either a straight or curved groove in a choice of colours so you can make interesting patterns while mopping up extraneous sound; while Woven Image uses CNC cutting machines to cut panels to the size and shape you want..so be as imaginative as you like. 

Mura

And for wallpaper enthusiasts, Woven Image has developed ultra thin Mura from EchoPanel, which you apply to walls using wallpaper paste. Available in a host of contemporary patterns, Mura is just 1.9mm thick...which is enough to do some lightweight sound absorbing and patterns have been designed to complement the colours of the solid panels.

 

EchoPanel space divider kits help to efficiently organise a space while immediately improving the acoustics, says Woven Image
Go for bold..peel and stick wall tiles are fun and easy to use
Mura wallpaper - for that textile touch with acoustic benefit
Woven Image hard wearing fabrics include the 100% polyester Focus collection, which can be recycled. Very soft, it's 100,000 Martindale rub test certified and comes in more than 20 colours
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Ingram says EchoPanel has undergone many forms of industry standard testing and complies with some of the world's highest mandatory standards. The material has been tested to prove it can stand up to heavy wear and tear, while the density of its composition has been designed to make it inherently fire retardant without the use of brominated FRs. 'We do stress that EchoPanel is a product dedicated to the environment,' says Ingram. 'At the core of its ethos is not only dematerialisation but recycling.' 

And EchoPanel has been evaluated under the Life Cycle Assessment test, demonstrating it minimises waste at every stage of the production process. So for every 1,000 sheets manufactured, 4.2 tonnes of post consumer PET waste plastic waste is diverted from landfill, while it takes 84 per cent less energy to recycle the plastic into pellets needed to make EchoPanel than it does to make virgin PET plastic. 

Fabrics

Woven Image offers a range of hard-wearing water repellent fabrics in glorious colours and patterns. Made from polyester, a recyclable man-made fibre, ranges include Focus, Spin, Urban and Mix HP. 

Give it a try

Kate Ingram is confident Brits and the wider European market will embrace EchoPanel because of its unique combination of eco-friendliness, cutting-edge design, ease of use and the acoustic benefits it brings to a project. 'I obviously want people to love it as much as we do. The possibilities it offers are endless.'

 

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