Ikea has developed a textile that can break down pollution and purify the air inside a home. Currently only available as a curtain, GUNRID, the textile could in theory be used for any application and we're excited to see where this new technology in textile design will lead.
There's nothing stopping interior designers from snapping up these £25 light grey curtains and being able to upholster headboards, furniture or even walls, to create a pollution-free space.
The technology behind GUNRID is both unique and innovative. Ikea has been developing the new textile with universities across Europe and Asia, developing a mineral-based photocatalyst coating that is applied to the textile. When the fabric then gets in contact with light (be it natural daylight or even artificial light),the material breaks down common indoor air pollutants – including odours and chemicals from household products such as formaldehyde. Not only that, the fabric is made out of recycled PET-bottles, so it’s better for the environment too. GUNRID is the first ever product to use the technology.
The technology has been developed by Ikea over a number of years and mimics the natural process by which plants transform light energy into chemical energy. The new material doesn't require electricity to reduce indoor air pollution. Moreover, it's self-cleaning, meaning that you can save water, energy and money by reducing the number of washes.
Air purifying technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years. The World Health Organisation has identified air pollution as the largest environmental health risk we face, with roughly 90 percent of the world thought to be breathing polluted air – so it’s easy to understand why brands are keen to tackle this growing problem. According to the United Nations, it is expected that 68 per cent of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2050, where the quality of the air is often poor.
But what might come as a surprise is that air pollutants can also be found inside the home; examples include nitrogen oxides from combustion fumes from gas cooking, and solvents like formaldehyde which seep from plastics, paints and furnishings. And indoor pollution is also surprisingly dangerous; it causes 4.3 million deaths annually – explaining why air purifying gadgets are so popular in countries like South Korea where air pollution levels are much higher.
Ikea hope that GUNRID will increase people’s awareness of indoor air pollution, inspiring behavioural changes that contribute to a world of clean air. Of course, the problem of polluted air can't be solved by the new curtain alone, but it could be one step in helping people reduce the risks associated with breathing poor quality air. Plus, with the textile being able to be used for anything, we could soon be seeing other air-purifying products too.
'Textiles are used across homes, and by enabling a curtain to purify the air, we are creating an affordable and space-saving air purifying solution that also makes the home more beautiful,' explained Ikea product developer Mauricio Affonso. 'We wanted to create a simple, convenient and affordable way to clean air that wouldn’t take up much space in people’s homes. We were also curious about creating a product that is multifunctional and that would help break down air pollutants that many air purifiers leave behind', he continued. 'Wouldn’t it be great if everything in our homes could contribute to better air and a healthier life at home?'
The GUNRID air purifying curtain is the latest step in the Swedish company's stride towards become climate positive in the next decade, with a vision of becoming more climate positive by 2030, reducing their climate footprint by 70% per product.
In recent years, Ikea has been reducing air pollution from their own operations, such as phasing out hazardous chemicals and decreasing emissions. Ikea's Better Air Now! initiative in 2018 turned rice straw – a rice harvesting residue that is traditionally burned, contributing heavily to air pollution – into a new renewable material source for Ikea products.
New Gunrid air purifying curtains are available in both light grey and light pink, for £25.