Biomaterials as material of the year at London Design Fair

For its 2019 edition, the London Design Fair, taking place from 14-22 September 2019, chose biomaterials as its Material of the Year, represented by four designers and inventors.

Starting next week on Saturday, London Design Festival’s largest trade destination is the London Design Fair, where retail buyers, architects, designers and established brands all come together. Since 2017, the Fair has picked a Material of the Year each edition, and after Jesmonite and plastic, it’s the turn of bio materials.

Biomaterials, also known as biobased materials, is a broad category. The Fair chose to focus on materials made from by-products found in the agricultural industry. They selected four designers that created functional and aesthetically pleasing designs.

Jimmy MacDonald, Founder and Director of the London Design Fair, 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.”

Corn husks
Mexican designer Fernando Laposse developed a veneer material made of the husks of heirloom Mexican corn.

An important part of Mexican gastronomy, the country’s native corns range in colour, from deep purple to yellow creams. Because of globalisation, however, native varieties are under threat and their only hope are Mexico’s indigenous people, who plant the native corn species according to tradition.

Totomoxtle, as the veneer is called, is made from the husks of this native corn. Laposse works together with a group of families in Tonahuixtla in the Mexican state of Puebla, to help generate traditional agricultural practices and establish a new craft that generates income for impoverished farmers.

Find this material in our library here.

Dutch designer Tjeerd Veenhoven created a leather-like material made of the leaves of the areca palm.

The areca betel nut is a commonly used ingredient in the Indian kitchen. The nut grows on the areca palm tree, which can be found throughout southern India. Each year, these palms shed their leaves in the beginning of October, which are generally regarded as waste.

Using simple, natural ingredients, Veenhoven developed a process to permanently soften the dry, hard and brittle palm leaf. The Palmleather, as the material is called, can be used in similar projects as actual leather, like to make carpets.

Find this material in our library here.

Potato board
Co-founded by Rowan Minkley and Rob Nicoll the company Chip[s] Board makes board material from potato waste.

They are supplied with the world’s largest manufacturer of frozen potato products, McCain. Chip[s] Board produced a number of materials, like Parblex Plastics, which are translucent pure or fibre reinforced bioplastics that can be used for interior design.

Read more about this project here.

Hemp, pomace and tobacco waste
Founded in 2015 by Johannes Kiniger and Giulia Farencena Casaro, High Society is a sustainable design company located in northern Italy. Using a compression moulding technique, the brand creates plant-based lighting from post-industrial waste. Their materials include hemp leftovers, pomace (the pulpy residue that remains after wine production) from a winery in South Tyrol, and discarded leaves and stalks from tobacco production in the Venetian region. Each material has its own lamp, and each light sold supports initiatives against drug dependency

Photos: London Design Fair (via V2com)