Posing the question of whether industry and nature can co-exist, designer Marlène Huissoud investigates waste material from the insect world in her sculpture collection Of Insects and Men. Combining honey bee bio-resin, a natural by-product of beekeeping, with manmade waste glass fragments, Huissoud challenges our understanding of ‘real’ and ‘fake’. The bio-resin is processed using glassblowing techniques and used to join the recovered glass fragments together to create unearthly semi-organic recycled sculptures.
Jonas Edvard and Nikolaj Steenfatt harvest seaweed washed up on the Danish coast to produce a biodegradable material composite which is used to make furniture. This abundant natural resource creates sustainable solutions for modern living. The designers dry out the seaweed, then grind it to a powder, which is combined with recycled paper to create a mouldable pulp that is used to make chairs, tables and more. Once the furniture has outlived its purpose it can be broken down or recycled as a natural fertiliser, completing the circular system.
In the Willow Project, created by a collective of students from the Icelandic Academy of Arts (ICAL), designers push the prolific local resource of the willow tree to its limits. Using experimental deconstructive and transformative techniques, the team discovered a variety of new uses for willow, ranging from dyes and glues to paper, string and even fragrance. Acknowledging that the willow tree has historically only been exploited using carpentry, the design team focused on heat-based and water-based processes such as burning, boiling and distilling to reach their unexpected results.
Brazilian designers Fernando and Humberto Campana recently completed a striking house in São Paulo. Referencing Brazil’s indigenous housing, the designers thatched the exterior walls in fibres from the piassava palm. This not only creates an arresting façade that suggests scaled-up, oversized handcrafting, it also exploits the fibres’ naturally heat-shielding properties.
Phoebe Quare’s MA Futures project at London’s Central St Martins poses a searching question: can a diminishing community and economy be regenerated through innovating lost heritage using locally sourced materials? She travelled to Bere Island off the southern coast of Ireland and used the waste of the island’s seasonal fishing and agricultural industries to create a series of design products. These artefacts, inspired by the island’s heritage, are designed to be easily reproduced and locally fabricated, thus bringing new, year-round revenue to Bere Island’s inhabitants.