presenting biomaterials, 2019 Material of the Year

Greater London, United Kingdom, 2019-09-02 – 

Every year, the London Design Fair showcases how innovative materials can be used in everyday things. Last year, it was recycled plastics, this year is the turn of biomaterials as Material of the Year.

Biomaterials or bio-based materials are often derived from agriculture. The products are harvested in an often complex yet sustainable process. The Fair is showing examples of work by four innovative environmental designers under the heading of Second Yield.

Jimmy MacDonald, the Fair’s Founder and Director explains: ‘The sheer volume of waste being repurposed and the potential volume these new materials can be used at, makes them extremely important and something we want to celebrate at the Fair.’

The Designers and inventors 

Fernando Laposse

Material: corn husks

Totomoxtle is a new veneer material made with the husks of local Mexican corn. A key part of traditional Mexican food, the local native corns range in colour, from wonderfully deep purples to soft yellow creams. Sadly, globalisation is threatening native varieties of Mexican corn. The only real hope of saving local species lies with Mexico’s indigenous people, who plant the corn in a traditional way. Working with the Tehuixtla community in the Mexican state of Puebla, Totomoxtle is helping local businesses and farmers to diversify to generate new income.

As a product and material designer, Fernando works between Mexico and London and has been engaged in this work since 2016. He takes the husks, often considered waste and transforms it into products that echoe the historic local culture, something that is key for him.

Chip[s] Board

Material: potato waste

Co-founded by Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll, Chip[s] Board is an innovative biomaterial company that turns food waste into high-value materials. McCain, the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products supports a number of sustainability projects is supplying Chip[s] Board with its raw materials. Chip[s] Board has several products using potato waste, including Parblex™ Plastics, a translucent pure or fibre reinforced bioplastics that can be used in fashion and interior design. Chip[s] Board has won several national and international grants and competitions and has attracted attention from global brands. The company is planning to scale up to be a provider of responsible alternatives, a step closer to replacing toxic polluting plastics.

Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Material: palm leaves

Based in the Netherlands, Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven is a product design studio with a difference: Tjeerd Veenhoven designs value chains, from initial production to the overall consumer experience. 

The areca palm tree of Southern India produces areca betel nuts used in Indian cuisine. The trees shed around 80 million square meters of beautiful, unused palm leaves every year. Tjeerd Veenhoven is putting the leaves to use. With just simple, natural ingredients and processes, he’s dried and permanently softened the brittle palm leaf, giving it a leather-like quality. Known as PalmLeather, this project began 2010 and has been growing ever since.

Tjeerd has set up several artisan factories in India, the Dominican Republic and Sri Lanka making various PalmLeather and derivative products, such as this unique PalmLeather interior rug using strips placed vertically, creating beautifully individual results.

High Society

Materials: hemp, tobacco and pomace

High Society was founded in 2015 by Johannes Kiniger and Giulia Farencena Casaro, located in the heart of the Dolomite Mountains in northern Italy. The company compression-moulds plant-based lighting from post-industrial waste including hemp leftovers, pomace, the pulpy residue left after after wine production, and discarded leaves and stalks from tobacco cultivation. Each light sold supports anti-drug dependency initiatives, working with Forum Prävention in Bolzano, north-east Italy.

High Society produces three lamp variations, the Highlight Hemp pendant, usings industrial hemp leftovers, Highlight Wine pendant, using pomace and the Highlight Tobacco pendant, leaves and stalks discarded during Venezian tobacco cultivation. Each unique lamp variation has an added bio-based binder and a natural wax coating providing a shiny surface protecting the lamp from humidity. Minimal and elegant, the pendants are ideal for both commercial and residential use.

Information and images supplied by V2com

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