Materials & Sustainability: Materials for circular economies (I)

Air Ink

‘Air Ink’. Source: www.kickstarter.com

Author: Laura Clèries, PhD.
Head of ELISAVA Research and Director of the Master in Design through New Materials

Materials and material-driven design have emerged as an important driver in the transition to the circular economy (1). Studies show that more than three out of four decisions influencing the final choice of materials and manufacturing processes are made during the design phase whilst over over 80% of the ecological and economic costs are made before the object is actually created. 

Design and materials have a pivotalinfluence on the way that products and services are made and used – they are therefore a crucial element in a shift towards more resource-efficient economy (2). Issued from a recent study that we performed, we ackowledged 6 type of materials categories that could fall into the ‘circular materials’ classification.

In this first post related to Materials & Sustainability, we present the two initial ones:

(a) Grown materials:
A series of projects have been proposing alternative ways of ‘manufacturing things’ by growing them using living organisms.

Definition: Materials that are grown through the use of bacteria or fungi.
Project/industry application: Small home objects, construction bricks, insulation panels, future textiles for fashion and accessories,…
Reasoning behind: Biological processes to generate materials, implicate a low environmental impact since they easily biodegrade.

Examples:

Biocouture, Cellulose based leather / Modern Meadow. Suzanne Lee

More info: http://www.modernmeadow.com/

 

CASKIA, Growing a Mars boot. By OurOwnSkin | Liz Ciokajlo in close collaboration with Officina Corpuscoli | Maurizio Montalti.

More info: http://www.corpuscoli.com/

 

Self-patterned Mycelium Rubber and Mycelium Lace. Carole Collet

More info: http://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/10405/

 

(b) Waste materials:
A large materials category, coming from both experiemental and industrial projects

Definition: Composite materials that are created out of harvested waste
Project/industry application: Chairs, tables, stools, footwear, clothing, home accessories, fashion accessories (glasses, watches, jewelry), construction panels, architectural elements (kitchen fixtures,..),..
Reasoning behind: Reuse of existing waste, undeeming the use of resources. Landfills as resource locations

Examples:

Paper Bricks. Woojai Studio.

Paper Bricks. Woojai Studio.

More info: http://www.woojai.com/paperbricks.html

 

Smile Plastics

More info: https://smile-plastics.com/

 

Air Ink

More info: http://www.graviky.com/air-inktrade.html

 

(1) Circular Design Guide, Ellen MacArthur Foundation+IDEO https://www.circulardesignguide.com/
(2) What is the designer’s role in bringing about a circular economy? http://designforeurope.eu/news-opinion/creating-design-action-plan-circular-economy

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