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Biomaterials In Design: London Design Fair 2019 Preview

Topic: Sustainable Design
Biomaterials in design: London Design Fair 2019 preview

Biomaterials will have a key role at London Design Fair 2019.
They'll indeed be the theme of the Material of the Year show. Now at its 3rd edition, Material of the Year aims at shining a light onto one challenging material that is particularly actual in the design industry.
Last year it was all about upcycling plastic waste. And this year, the focus will be on biomaterials.

Biomaterials & sustainable design

Sustainable design is a very wide label that includes circular design projects, use of recycled materials, efficient exploitation of natural resources, ethical practices and more.

Discover sustainable home design products on SforSustainable

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One of the most innovative options in sustainable design are certainly biomaterials: natural-based materials derived from agricultural by-products, waste from the food industry etc...

The Material of the Year exhibition of the upcoming London Design Fair has been given the evocative name of Second Yield and will showcase 4 circular design projects based on biomaterials.
Let’s take a preview look at them!

Potato waste bioplastics

Designer: Chip[s] Board

Industrial production of potato products generates a lot of waste. But the guys at Chip[s] Board decided to turn it into a resource. They source potato waste from McCain (the famous manufacturer of frozen potatoes) and turn it into Parblex™ Plastics. These inspiring bioplastics come in different patterns and colours. And with their countless applications from interior design to fashion, they clearly show the potential of a circular economy model!

Samples of Chips Board potato-waste biomaterial.
Credit: Chip[s] Board
Circular economy cycle followed at Chips Board.
Circular economy cycle followed at Chip[s] Board. Credit: Chip[s] Board
Chips Board button made of bioplastic.
Credit: Chip[s] Board (via Instagram)

Corn husks veneer

Designer: Fernando Laposse

Totomoxtle is a sustainable veneer material made of corn husks which undergo an extremely meticulous making process. Firstly, husk pieces are ironed flat and glued onto a backing. The resulting foil is then cut in tiny pieces that are finally reassembled like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, creating the final pattern.

Corn husks hanging on a wall before being transformed.
Vases made of Totomoxtle, a corn husk-based biomaterial.
Credits: Fernando Laposse

Besides being a gorgeous sustainable material, Totomoxtle also represents a powerful tool to help native Mexican corn survive. In fact, Mexico is home to a wide variety of corns. But since these are not as profitable as genetically modified crops, they are at risk of extinction.
This project creates value around native crops by transforming them into design pieces. So practically it makes it again more profitable to plant them!

Sample of herringbone flooring pattern made of Totomoxtle.
Credit: Fernando Laposse

But the sustainability value of this products goes way beyond their raw material. The designer has worked in partnership with the Mexican community of Tonahuixtla on this project. And now, the production of Totomoxtle is creating jobs for local people, supporting their economy as a result!

For the contribution it gives to the preservation of natural biodiversity, Totomoxtle was also showcased at Broken Nature (the XXII exhibition of the Triennale di Milano), as an example of restorative design.

Coffee table with Totomoxtle top.
Credit: Fernando Laposse

Palm leather

Designer: Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

The Areca palm tree is mainly famous for its air purifying qualities. In particular, the NASA Clean Air study has highlighted it absorbs formaldehyde, xylene and toluene, some of the most common VOCs found in indoor spaces.
But in fact, the nut growing on this plant is also a common ingredient in Indian cuisine. This justifies the diffusion of this plant (80 million trees in South India!) but also means that a lot of leaves will grow and fall.

Previously considered just waste, fallen leaves of areca palms have become a precious raw material for Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven. After a few days of softening, dry leaves become Palm Leather: a leather-like material that can substitute animal leather, rubber and plastic in a number of applications. Another gorgeous example of circular design that does not compromise on aesthetics!

Sample of Palm leather.
Credit: Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven has also created small factories in India, the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka, transforming the production of Palm Leather products into a precious driver for local economies.

Palm leather mat.
Palm leather mat. Credit: Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven (via Instagram)
Palm leather chair.
Palm leather chair upholstery. Credit: Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Agricultural waste lamps

Designer: High Society

Every cultivation creates some kind of by-product. But that becomes waste only as long as we look at it that way!
High Society has certainly looked beyond and – keeping circular design in mind – has turned the by-products of wine, tobacco and hemp cultivations into LED pendant lamps that respectively take a natural purple, brown and green colour.

Lamps made with biomaterials coming from the cultivation of hemp, tobacco and wine.
Credit: High Society

I discovered High Society a while ago and I’m happy to say that these lamps are one of the very first items I've added to SforSustainable, the selection of sustainable home design pieces I curate!
Read more about their production on SforSustainable and – if you're thinking to purchase one of them – make sure you take advantage of the 10% discount code for the SforSustainable community!

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Sustainable design is our invaluable opportunity to keep surrounding ourselves with beautiful objects while respecting and preserving the environment. And it is great to see the popularity it's gaining in the interior design industry!

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