New materials: innovation and commitment to the planet

The production of traditional materials has a strong impact on the environment. Several Elisava Alumni are working on new and innovative materials based on recycling, sustainability and circular economy models, raising new and inspiring possibilities for architects, designers and creators who wish to produce keeping tomorrow’s generations in mind. Here are some of them:

HONEXT®️ is a Barcelona-based company in which former Elisava student and teacher Berta Julià Sala serves as Brand Manager.

They produce high-end materials by taking advantage of cellulose fiber waste thanks to an innovative circular process. Paper mill waste is extracted and regenerated through an industrial process that stands out for being organic, free of resin, residues and harmful VOCs such as formaldehyde. The final product is 100% recyclable panels that can be used in exhibition design, as cladding for interior spaces or to separate environments.

REVISTE, the project promoted by Joaquín Acevedo, is also an initiative that arose from the idea of reusing waste materials. After observing that a high percentage of waste comes from construction, from which up to 40% is used wood that is wasted, they proposed to cover interior and exterior structures with paneling based on pieces of repurposed wood.

This design and economic model also has a social focus, as it collaborates with the Valparaiso Gendarmerie Work Center in the social reintegration of people at risk of exclusion.

The cocoa industry presents itself as a great opportunity to create biomaterials and generate new business opportunities from which many communities in Ecuador can benefit. Kajkāo is formed by an Italian-Ecuadorian team of designers that includes Carla Anderson and is synonymous with social and ecological commitment.

From improving the lives of cocoa farmers to developing new sustainable, biodegradable and compostable materials produced from cocoa waste, Kajkāo promotes a circular economy approach. To this date, Carla and her team have developed a material with possibilities to be introduced in different uses ranging from packaging to decoration.

Another project that revolves around this concept is the one developed by Alumni Marni Bowman. Fanny Bay is an intervention of a more experimental nature, through which Marni explores the possibilities that arise when approaching the design of materials from different perspectives. Using a material made from only oyster shell fragments and a mineral solution, she observes how, as the water cools down, crystals form between the oyster shells as binders, resulting in a durable ceramic that forms beautiful sculptures.

We are at a time of emergency to discard the old paradigm of the linear production system and to provide new formulas with which to innovate in a responsible way. Taking advantage of resources and transforming waste into new materials by extending their life cycle is an environmental challenge and a commitment that is increasingly present in the way we design and build for the future.