May 23, 2019


Ready to discover the most innovative biomaterials in design and the latest circular design projects from the Milan Design Week 2019?

We are surrounded by all types of materials: the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the package we wrap our goods in, the homes we live in, our workplaces. “Materials make up the entire world that’s around us yet very few people think about them on a daily basis ” explains Liz Corbin, one of the creator of Materiom.

In our yet predominant linear economy, we produce materials for use and dispose of them, generating, as a result, a massive amount of waste. Nature, instead, makes its own materials with a set of ingredients that organisms know how to source, use, breakdown, and reuse. It’s no surprise there are no landfills in nature.

During the Milan Design Week 2019, we were thrilled to find out that circular economy is finally hitting the mainstream. The circular design has become a priority for many brands and designers, and as a result plenty of projects are considering materials as the number one priority on the interior and product designs.


Ventura-Future, BASEmilano, Ph. Roar-Studio


The perception of waste has shifted from unwanted materials or a threat to the environment to valuable resources. Discarded materials, ranging from recycled plastic to marble, from food to textile are being repurposed into sustainable and circular design products. Brands and designers are challenging themselves and creating products with biomaterials such as manure, vegetables, fungus, algae, marine sediments, plants and seashells.

We have handpicked some pretty fascinating cases from the MDW 2019 which incorporate the principals of circular economy and circular design. Let’s dive into this amazing world that brings together design, nature, science, technology and a genuine love for our planet.

|| What is circular design? Learn more here


Innovative Biomaterial Designs from SALONESATELLITE 2019: “FOOD AS A DESIGN OBJECTS”

We can’t talk about biomaterials without mentioning some cases from the Salone Satellite . In 2019 the Satellite challenged designers with the “Food as a Design Objects” theme. Designers were asked to rethink food production methods, packaging, distribution, consumption and disposal.



Kobe Leather Project

Japanese studio Kuli-Kuli,  in collaboration with local tanners, decided to turn cowhide, a discarded cow leather not traditionally used, into a collection of new products. His Kobe Leather Project got the first prize from the Salone Satellite Awards.



Organico Project

/ BIOMATERIALS DESIGN | Most innovative circular designs from MDW2019 /


Organico Project was presented by the German designer Phillip Hainke. He researches traditional and renewable resources in order to develop innovative material.  

His Halo chair showed the strength and possibilities of a lightweight material made from hemp and casein. His design piece was awarded the second prize of the SaloneSatellite Award.



/ BIOMATERIALS DESIGN | Most innovative circular designs from MDW2019 /


HEMPANELS project was showcased by the Belgium designer Romy di Donato. She created a collection of acoustic panels made of hemp fibres that can be colored with vegetable dyes. The designer has been working with hemp since 2017 and she has opened a shop 100% dedicated to hemp products such hemp plates, bag, panels and fabric.





/ BIOMATERIALS DESIGN | Most innovative circular designs from MDW2019 /


Pensiero Materia, created by Luca Alessandrini and HENRY & Co design studio, also took part at the SaloneSatellite introducing various objects made out of natural resources. They showcased a set of kitchen homeware made out of bio-plastic and tomato peel waste coming from Sicily. The set came to life thanks to 3D printing and it is 100% recyclable. Another design is the “Arco ” table lamp made of coffee waste from the Autogrill food chain.



At the FuoriSalone we saw some fascinating designs with biomaterials which are aligned with the circular economy principals:



Peel Saver is an ecological packaging for fries made from 100% potato skins, fully biodegradable, returning to the biological cycle as fertiliser for plants or animal food. The package proposes a solution for discarded street food packaging by turning bio waste into a resource.

Design students Simone Caronni, Paolo Stefano Gentile and Pietro Gaeli came up with the project after realising how much potato peel waste was produced by fries companies. They wanted to put this waste material into good use and they realised ironically that this material could be used to contain the food that was made from. Their project was presented at the Ventura Project with the support of StudentDesign, a global online platform promoting students projects.


LAAB Lamps

/ BIOMATERIALS DESIGN | Most innovative circular designs from MDW2019 /


Miyuca Studio created a series of sustainable lamps made out of fallen leaves in an effort to replace plastic with natural resources surrounding us. After the leaves have fallen to the ground naturally they are collected and carefully sorted by colour and type, before being mixed with natural additives and biologic resins.  Their lamp collection could be seen at the Brera Design District within the FuoriSalone.



/ BIOMATERIALS DESIGN | Most innovative circular designs from MDW2019 /


Manureality is a collection of products which focuses on alternative interior materials. The collection was presented at Base Milano and was part of the Future (H)eart(H): 8 Dutch Design visions for a livable earth.  

While researching traditional construction techniques, designer Martijn Straatman from Studio Tinus got into the conclusion that manure could be an ideal building material for construction. He then questioned why manure was not yet used for interior design.

Martin then started to create stools, lamps and other pieces from manure. He believes that we should go back to basics to become more sustainable.


MATERIALS MATTER MORE THAN EVER / The importance of biomaterials in Design

We learnt a great deal from these talented young designers and brands. We are even more convinced that design can really help us shift to a circular economy. Materials can be restorative rather than destructive. They must be used to empower us instead of alienating us.

When we choose safe and circular materials, we ensure that products are safer to both humans and the environment. When solutions are invaluable for people, they give businesses a competitive advantage. Materials are where everything begins and where our roots are.


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