The Coastal Funiture
Today with the climate challenges, we are faced with an ever-growing need for sustainable materials which I think we, as designers, need to consider. Meanwhile, we must maintain high aesthetics and quality in Nordic design tradition while upholding a circular economy and UN’s 17 sustainable development goals.
Two-thirds of the Earth’s surface is covered with water. This creates great opportunities as we can use the sea’s resources in furniture production and building material.
There is a great sustainable potential in algae – they absorb CO2 and absorb nutrients from the water, thereby avoiding the use of artificial fertilizers. In addition, algae also create a richer and better environment for fish.
Currently, much research is being done into how we can transform algae into energy, medicine, food and animal nutrition.
On the Danish island, Læsø, eelgrass has for many hundred years been used for rooftops. It was expensive and difficult to get materials to the island and the few trees that were on the island were used for saltworks, therefore, they becan to use eelgrass.
Eelgrass grows naturally near the coastline only to be collected when washed ashore, then it is dried on the surrounding fields. In addition to the characteristic look of the eelgrass rooftops, they also have a sustainable advantage, as they can last up to 300 years.
At the beginning of the last century eelgrass was used for mattress filling. The furniture companies GETAMA and SKALMA actually started producing seaweed mattresses.
The inspiration for the project draws on these historic eelgrass rooftops on Læsø.
The chair has a natural expression that reproduces the texture of the material and the shape of the lounge chair is inspired by the monolithic seaweed roofs.
Through a material-based development process, I found that eelgrass alone is not strong enough for furniture material. Therefore, the material is further developed into a composite material consisting of eelgrass and a binder that bind the eelgrass fibers into a hard plate. To create a 100% sustainable material, the binder is carrageenan, which is extracted from red algae. Carrageenan is usually used as a thickener in the food industry and toothpaste.
Carrageenan, eelgrass and water are mixed together by hand, after which it is laid out on a mould and dried in a specially-made oven. Thereby the water evaporates and the material fades into ¼ of the thickness corresponding to approx. 10 mm. This material consists entirely of seaweed and is therefore 100% biodegradable.
The material can be recycled, left in nature or thrown into the water, after which it slowly dissolves.
Circular economy has been a key focus throughout the process. Hence, the bamboo underframe made from old flooring material is attached by four unbraco screw brass brackets, which makes it easy to separate and recycle individually.
I believe materials like these has great potential in the future. The seaweed material can be used for furniture as a sustainable alternative to wood and plastic instead of OSB wooden plates, MDF or it can be used as acoustic plates. I have already developed several prototypes of lounge chairs, a table, a lamp and a bar stool.
The material has attracted great interest also from foreign countries. In December 2018, I won the Nordic Design Competition: Sustainable Chairs COP24 in Poland. On Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair in February 2019 I won the price “Best Preformance”.
The possibilities are endless with my newly developed 100% biomaterial – a sustainable future, I will like to influence.
Sustainable Development Goals – the United Nations
12, 13, 14 and 15