June 25, 2020

Isola goes Digital - Four sustainable projects

For the first time there was a digital version of Milan Design Week. The real Milan Design Week was supposed to happen mid April but had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now Isola Design District, one of the many of Milan's city districts taking part in the design week each year, has decided to take things online and build a new type of platform for designers and design related events. The design community on the platform is growing steadily and sustainability is written big on a lot of the projects. In this post we are introducing some of our favorites. If you want to browse the full list of projects, head over to isoladesigndistrict.com

Glints of Algae by Prachi Dikshit

These beautiful organically shaped lampshades are 3D-printed from micro algae filament. These filaments are natural and biodegradable, contrary to a lot of commonly used 3D-printing materials, that are still derived from fossil fuels. The algae material is not only made from a better source material, but also requires less heat in the printing process.

As 3D-printing develops from a prototyping tool towards a manufacturing method for high quality finished products, a lot of opportunities arise. The strongest aspects being small-scale on-demand production, that allows for little to no waste or deadstock. On the other hand, there is the aspect of distributed production through these small scale devices. Instead of having one giant factory somewhere and distributing worldwide, there can be many tiny factories all around the world that distribute locally and therefore save vast amounts of transport emissions, empower local communities and utilize local material sources.

This project combines the beauty of a highly undervalued plant - algae - with contemporary production method and the result is amazing. If you want to read more about the project, visit Prachis profile on the Isola Design District Platform here.

Recycled plastic sheets by The Good Plastic Company

The Good Plastic Company is a dutch manufacturer of high quality plastic sheets, made completely from recycled materials. They produce a wide range of sheet types in different materials and patterns. The shelf above was designed by danish architects Iryna Tsyoma and Ole Storjohann and features a structure made from oak dowels and the "timeless duo" plastic sheet. These sheets specifically are made from refridgerator enclosures (white part) and household electronics, such as keyboards and computer mice (black part).

This and many other of their sheet types do not feature the usual cheap, single-use plastic aesthetic. Quite the opposite, they make you think about marble and precious stones and high end luxury interiors. This is a proof that waste materials, if collected and treated right, are just as valuable as virgin raw materials. Plus, all the sheets are made from a single type of plastic and therefore can easily be shredded and recycled again into new sheets at the end of their life.

If you want to learn more about The Good Plastic Company or order yourself some samples to start designing, visit their website here!

Marblelous by Matthijs Bruinenberg

Marblelous utilizes marble grit, a byproudct of marble quarrying that has little to no use or application at the current time. The marble grit has some interesting properties that make it possible to create sturdy, exo-skeleton like structures.

Matthijs explains the process himself like this: "Embracing the marble grits qualities of adhesion and density to “ freeze “ elastic metal meshes by submerging them in a concrete-like mixture that contains up to 80% of marble grit. Creating geometric stone-like structures where the marble grit plays a necessary load-bearing role."

These objects are not only using up leftover materials but also inspire a wide range of possibilites of what can be created with this innovative production method. If you want to read more about the project, visit Matthijs' website here.

Lucidum - Mycelium Lighting by Josh Riesel

This stone-like lamp is made from industrial wood waste, which is bound together with reishi mushroom mycelium. Mycelium is the "root" structure of mushrooms and can be grown into solid shapes under the right conditions with the use of molds. Once baked, the fungus itself is deactivated, leaving a semi-permanent object behind, that is still biodegradable.

Mycelium has become quite popular among experimental designers as a unique new material that can literally be grown into different forms and used for a range of different applications. This lamp is yet another example of a beautiful home object that can be made with this material.

The idea in this case, is that the upper, mycelium-made part can be swapped more frequently, depending on current trends or the style of the living space, while the base of the lamp with the light source can be kept for a long time. Since the diffuser part of the lamp is biodegradable, changing it up every now and then is associated with a much lower environmental impact. If you want to read more about the project, visit Josh Riesels website here.

There is more!

If this post made you curious about other sustainable design projects, take a look at the Isola Design District community and use the filters to select sustainable projects. Our selection was just a small slice on what can be discovered there.

What all of these projects have in common is a new and innovative way to look at materials, be it waste, excess or natural. The end products in all cases are nothing short of stunning and prove that a conscious, yet experimental approach to design is all it takes to make a difference.

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