A conversation between Borre Akkersdijk and The Canvas
Please tell us how BYBORRE came to be.
I've been developing textiles for almost 15 years. And it was always important, like any good product, for them to be made out of good materials. Further, it was very important for me to understand where material comes from. In design school, I started investigating: What type of machines made textiles? What are the knitting machines? What are the weaving machines? What are the machines that yarns go in? What happens if you pull the string differently or put a different color in? It took me seven years to become a textile expert: understanding the supply chain, the textile process. By controlling the process and making decisions about the components that go into the process — fiber, yarn, machines, programs, which is the core of BYBORRE — we provide the ultimate transparency of textiles from concept design through to production.
Can you elaborate on what BYBORRE is?
The model of BYBORRE is a platform for responsible textile creation in the field of knitting; we make knitted textiles. What we started doing is creating software that gives access to our entire ecosystem of yarn suppliers, machine suppliers, and manufacturing. Creators who use our software don't have to understand all the supply chains to be able to use the medium of textile or to create with the medium of textile. For now it is giving and facilitating that accessibility to all the responsible yarn suppliers, machine suppliers, and production facilities that we now create with an open source platform. What I find very important is that we go from a waterfall industry to an on demand industry. We should stop pushing as much raw materials from silo to silo as it is a driver for overproduction and we should start putting the creator in the position to only choose the yarns and produce the quantity of textile they really need. So you go from a seasonal market to an on-demand market in which you only produce what is needed.
What remains the biggest challenge and area of improvement for BYBORRE?
It's not necessarily bettering the system, or a whole new system; it is about reshuffling the old system. And making less but making it better, and using everything that is made. Right now there's so much overproduction. There's little respect for raw materials, as long as you make enough margin. We're working with over 100 brands and creators across the sectors of automotive, interior, luxury fashion, and sportswear apparel. We are working towards democratization of access to our tools, so anyone with a credit card will soon be able to responsibly create textiles.
Is there a minimum or maximum order needed to use your software?
Everybody can use our design tool, BYBORRE Create™, and can buy samples. Samples start with one meter [approximately 3.25 feet]. The price is about €150 per meter. Importing, testing, innovation, and production — our full suite of offerings — requires an order that can increase to 400 meters minimum depending on which machines are used.
What's next for BYBORRE?
I think the biggest next step is making BYBORRE Create™, our textile design software, more accessible for everybody. We are working on new, responsible yarns for Create™, so you have more options in designing. And in the future, it will be about building a better bridge between digital and physical worlds, because you design in the digital space, and then we of course produce in the physical world.
If there was a brand you could collaborate with, who would it be?
For me I’d like to work with an artist, or I would love to collaborate with Tom Sacks to really use our textiles in an innovative way. On the other hand I would like it if BYBORRE becomes more accessible—a household name. So definitely if some of the more accessible products or garments would use our ecosystem, that I would really like.