The way we have been thinking production, distribution and
consumption up until now has contributed to the ecological crisis we experience today. Climate change, resource scarcity and the extinction of species threaten our future. We have to rethink. But how? How can society manage to become part of a system fit for the
future in a short time? Away from the increase in value towards value preservation? Away from consumerism towards appreciation? From ego to we?
In our view, rethinking means combining what exists in a new way. We believe: A lot of solutions are already out there. However, we arrive at our common goal more quickly, if we accomplish bringing them together in a way that people accept them with delight and companies can apply them easily.
While looking for inspirational ideas, we – the carpet manufacturer Ruckstuhl, designer Stephan Hürlemann and the online media company DAAily platforms – have teamed up in autumn 2022 to start an experiment. With the intention to improve the eco-balance of products, we rethought design, production, distribution, usage and trade of a rug. As a result, the Fellow Project with the Fellow rugs came into being as well as new ideas for processes, services and rituals which can potentially be transferred to other goods.
Change and innovation originate from human acting. In order to overcome the status quo, we change from an attitude of expectation into an active approach, we network, rethink, discover opportunities, pose theses, test them, learn, talk about it and keep an open mind.
We do so, hoping that our experiment can contribute to a sustainable future.
Every day, thousands and thousands of tonnes of goods are
transported around the world by planes, container ships and trucks, causing emissions. How can manufacturers get their products to customers in a more environmentally friendly way?
Our idea is to produce goods “on demand“, right where they are
needed without operating production facilities abroad. For the pilot project Ruckstuhl teamed up with other carpet manufacturers, building a network of production sites for the Fellow rugs. Cooperation partners are required to use a tufting robot in their production and stick to the quality and sustainability standards defined by Ruckstuhl. The process works the other way round, too: Ruckstuhl can manufacture rugs in Switzerland for other cooperation partners as well.
Thoughtless consumption wastes resources. How can we get people to value their products more and take better care of them? And how can companies benefit from the longevity of their products?
Every Fellow rug is unique. Designer Stephan Hürlemann has developed a formal guideline with which colour and form worlds were generated. From these, various rugs can be digitally “cut out“. This way, each Fellow has its own character and remains a member of the Fellow product family at the same time.
People love a good story. Ruckstuhl establishes an online diary for every Fellow which documents the individual life journey of the rug. It shows, for example, its creation on the tufting robot. At the same time, we encourage rug owners to share pictures of their own story with their rug in its corresponding Fellowship Diary, thereby making it even more unique. Everyone who participates, automatically becomes part of the Fellow community.
What already works in other industries is now being implemented by Ruckstuhl as well: The carpet manufacturer takes back pre-owned rugs and attests their good condition with a «Proofed by Ruckstuhl» certificate. What is new is that Ruckstuhl's used rugs are sold alongside new ones. The individual life story of these pre-owned rugs is made visible through an online diary, the so-called Fellowship Diary. In comparison to a new product, a «certified pre-owned» Fellow can carry an additional emotional value. Thus, everyone involved benefits from the longevity of the rugs.
Sale, delivery, warranty, care and handing over of furniture and rugs have usually been made up by a patchwork of services. In most cases, tracing back the used materials is difficult. Furthermore, companies often have no information about the whereabouts of their sold products, thus complicating their support with care or returning the resources into the cycle. How can all these processes be simplified for a more conscious use of products?
Each Fellow is linked by a code to a Non-Fungible Token (NFT) which represents the rug in the digital world and bundles all activities around it. The digital Fellow in the owner’s DAAily Wallet* is trading good, warranty, verification of uniqueness, certificate of ownership and key to information and services all in one.
Who wants to order a Fellow rug, buys the digital representative
first and thereby initiates the production of the rug in the nearest cooperating manufacturing site. Thanks to the blockchain technology, every transaction of information is secure and traceable. This enables Ruckstuhl to stay in touch with the rug via the NFT.
*The NFTs of the DAAily Wallet by DAAily platforms are built on the blockchain technology “Polygon“. It is based on Ethereum technology, which is considered to be environmentally friendly. Refer to: https://polygon.technology/sustainability. However, the benefits and environmental impact of blockchain technology should be weighed against each other constantly.
There is still a lot to do until we reach our goal. Ruckstuhl is currently reviewing all the materials and production processes in terms of their eco-balance and optimising them where possible. Among other things, the Swiss manufacturer researches a plant-based substitute for the artificial latex on the back coating of the Fellows. Furthermore, the production is supposed to shift to a tufting net made of recycled fibres by the end of 2023.
Even though our ideas can potentially shorten delivery routes, simplify processes for a more conscious use of products or promote the long use of products, in this early stage of the Fellow Project many questions remain unanswered. However, there is one thing we can already tell today: In the process of creating this project, we were able to have many inspiring conversations, which strengthen our resolve. We are motivated to continue to rethink. And to act.