Milan Design Week 2020: where sustainable & biophilic design meet

in design trends

Milan Design Week 2020 has certainly been a different design week, but it has still been rich in discoveries and inspirations!
Among them are the following 4 projects, that merge sustainability with a biophilic design mindset.

1. Keep Life


Keep Life is an innovative material. All natural, it is obtained by crushing the shells of dried fruits (hazelnuts, chestnuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and peanuts) and sticking them together with a solvent & formaldehyde-free binder.
An example of circular design that creates value and beauty out of something that would normally be considered waste.

Close-up view of crushed dried fruits shells.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Keep Life (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab) - Photo by Oscar Vinck


Keep Life is conceived as an alternative to wood. And in doing so, it introduces an inspiring mindset shift.
By using trees’ fruits rather than their wood, this material is an invitation to preserve plants – keep them alive (as the name suggests) – instead of falling them.
From a wider perspective, this material proves that design can flourish without depleting natural resources.

From a physical point of view, Keep Life has a rich texture to touch and look at.
It also introduces a smell component, retaining the scent of dried fruits. Thus, it well represents the biophilic concept of engaging all the senses in interiors.

Containers with base in Keep Life and marble lid.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Office containers made of Keep Life.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credits: Keep Life (opened in a new window/tab)

2. PineSkins


PineSkins is a vegan leather-like material made with the inner bark of pine trees.
This part of the tree is a by-product of tree-cutting. Therefore, PineSkins is also in line with a circular economy model, in that it takes an uninteresting material and makes it the star of mindful design pieces.
The bark is sourced locally (in Latvia) and its holes & imperfections are highlighted with a wool filling.

Close-up view of PineSkins texture.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Studio Sarmite (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)


From a biophilic perspective, PineSkins introduces a real natural texture. It also stimulates the senses, including smell, thanks to its natural scent of forest.
Since pine trees are particularly common in Latvia, using this material locally will also strengthen the bond with the surrounding environment.
Due to the finishing treatments it gets, PineSkins is subject to changes over time. Just like real plants, it adds an element of life to interiors, making them more stimulating.

PineSkins round rug.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Studio Sarmite (opened in a new window/tab)

3. Modular plant


As the name suggests, Modular Plant is a system of modules to create green walls.
The modules come in different shapes made of recycled cardboard or laminated wood. Plants fit into a recycled PET capsule. This creates a passive irrigation system that covers up to 3 months of watering, while preventing overwatering.

Garden wall created on the back wall of a dining area.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bio 360 (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)


Bringing real plants in interiors has plenty of advantages. And green walls are a very effective way of bringing plants indoors. They recreate the effect of a window opened onto nature by clustering different species in one place.
Looking at the Parametric version, the structure itself has an interesting organic shape that adds further movement.

Garden wall with an ondulated wood base structure.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: Bio 360 (via Instagram) (opened in a new window/tab)

4. Rewood


Rewood is a chipboard panel made with 85% post-consumer wood.
The raw material comes from discarded furniture that is dismantled and separated in its components. Other materials like metal, fabrics or plastics enter their respective recycling streams. And the wood gets shredded and used for Rewood panels.

Close-up of crushed pieces of wood mixed with other materials like glass, plastics etc.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: SAIB (opened in a new window/tab)


The raw panels are coated with resin-impregnated paper and hot-pressed in a number of finishes that mimic the textures of natural materials (wood, stone, leather...). Therefore, these panels are an example of natural analogues and can help evoke a stronger sense of nature when physical access to it is not available.

From a health perspective, Rewood panels have been awarded a LEED certification. In particular, the REP (Reduced Emission Panel) is made with low-emission glues that cut down the level of released formaldehyde.

Contemporary kitchen-dining area with walls covered in Rewood panels with wood texture.<span class="sr-only"> (opened in a new window/tab)</span>
Credit: SAIB (opened in a new window/tab)

Products that merge sustainable and biophilic design resonate with my design approach fully.
They embrace interior design as a deeply valuable discipline. One that can benefit human wellbeing and nature at the same time!

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