Jun 16, 2020

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital

The coronavirus crisis is forcing the world to deal with its contradictions. Health care access, social and economic inequalities, and air pollution have a significant impact on the battle against COVID-19. While the virus threatens our breath, it also forces the world to stop and therefore improves the air quality, as Italian sociologist Francesco Morace analysis. 

If on the one hand, people can see the clear sky in China or blue water in the Venice lagoon, on the other hand, we see a massive increase in disposable goods. The disposable market for masks, for example, is projected to grow 8.5% from 2020 to 2030*. The pandemic, in one way or another, reminds us that even while battling the COVID emergency, we can’t afford to stop fighting climate change and ultimately to deal with the current environmental crisis.

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Magdalena Sophie Orland




Due to the pandemic, some design fairs and events have been cancelled or postponed to 2021, including the most important one, the Milan Design Week which comprises the Salone del Mobile and the Fuorisalone. Despite all the chaos, businesses and designers are finding digital, safe and sustainable ways to share their creativity, research, new products and services. 

This year the Fuorisalone introduces the new logic of digital events, which as they claim does not virtualize the physical experience but propose a functional and safe alternative solution to share design content on multiple channels. From 15 to 21 June 200, Fuorisalone.it is launching their own TV and webinar channel

Among the different design districts sharing virtual exhibitions and news during the Fuorisalone Digital week, we have selected the top sustainable and circular designs from ISOLA GOES DIGITAL, a must-go destination during the Fuorisalone focusing also on circular design. Jump below the links to learn more. 


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The decisions we make when designing a product, system or service will determine 80% of their environmental impact, and this includes the materials we choose.* That is why many designers are pushing themselves to develop sustainable materials for a circular economy and a better future. 

We have handpicked six fascinating cases of sustainable new designs from designers and companies taking part in the ISOLA GOES DIGITAL event. All these cases incorporate the principles of circular economy and circular design and thus demonstrate a new approach to materials. Let’s meet them:


Circular Wall Lamp

Wisse Trooster

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital


Dutch designer Wisse Trooster has been working with a variety of materials and in multiple disciplines. Trooster designed the Circular Wall Lamp collection that brings together both sustainability and aesthetics, proving that the former doesn’t exclude the latter.

He selected sustainable acrylics and sheet material made from recycled plastic, such as plastic cutting boards, from the sustainable material collection of Pyrasied. The discs are combined with LED filament light tubes. The lamp can be completely dismantled, and its components can be reused or recycled. Starting with the Circular Wall Lamp, Trooster will further expand the Circular collection with other fixtures and other recycled materials. 





Ecological in coating

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital


CooLoo is a Dutch company specialised in the development and production of objects such as furniture, solutions and finishing’s based on waste materials and ecological coating technologies. 

The company’s goal is to develop and create zero-waste products that suit a circular economy. To reach this goal, the company combines waste material with materials that are solvent and CFC free, modular design that allows products to be repaired and refurbished and local production.

CooLoo works together with fabric recycling companies, leather production and upholstering companies, foam recycling companies and many others to transform waste materials into high-quality products. CooLLeather and CooLCork are two award-winning examples of finishings that incorporate waste from the leather and cork production industries.




Re:flex memory material

Karlijn Sibbel, Pierre Azalbert and Benton Ching

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital


Karlijn Sibbel, Pierre Azalbert, and Benton Ching, a multidisciplinary team of designers and engineers, gave life to re:flex, a sustainable and affordable alternative to conventional shape memory materials. 

With re:flex, the team imagined a world where the materials we use are no longer inert. Materials instead should allow objects to be reshaped by users according to their needs, avoiding them to be discarded whenever a minor adjustment is required.

Unlike traditional memory materials that are difficult to work with, as they required roughly 500ºC heat to reset, re:flex is a composite material that can be manufactured at low temperatures on a large scale and allows for reversible fixation, thermal actuation and unlimited fitting. Re:flex remembers the form it is made in. You can heat it, deform it into a temporary shape, and cool it down to freeze it in place. When heated again, it returns to its original shape. 

To demonstrate the reversible fixation aspect, for example, they have developed a prototype for an arm cast that can be easily applied, removed, disinfected and reused. Developed in response to a culture of disposability, re:flex could potentially be used not only in biomedical applications but also in furniture, computer accessories, adjustable bicycle saddles and deployable spaces structures.





Hye Hyun Song

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital


Breathe, a research project by South Korean designer Hye Hyun Song, aims to give life to sustainable masks made form eggshells waste. Hye Hyun explains that eggshells like other protein-rich waste, attract vermin and rodents and therefore they are often rejected by landfills. Every year 250,000 tons of eggshell waste is produced worldwide, and this number is likely to increase following an expansion of the food additives industry such as mayonnaise. Eggshells, therefore, will become more and more an economically and environmentally problematic type of waste.

Breathe looks at the use of egg membranes, a white, thin, film-like material attached to the eggshell. Egg membrane, which acts as a natural barrier to the egg embryo, is semipermeable, thus making it work as a breathing passage. Egg membrane is composed of fibrous proteins creating an irregular web-like structure with microscopic pore size.  The protein fibre turns into paper-like material through a traditional paper-making process and then coated with egg white solution to create a soft, non-woven fabric. Asian traditional fabric coating practices inspire this method. 

Although further research is needed, the designer anticipates that if egg protein’s metal absorption capacity and antimicrobial metals are combined, this material may be a sustainable antibacterial non-woven fabric that can effectively filter heavy metal, dust, and bacteria.




Kajkao: Biomaterials From Cacao

Lako Design Studio

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital


Ecuadorian-based design studio Lako has developed flexible bioplastic sheets made from cocoa crop waste. The material is both biodegradable and compostable and can be used in consumer goods, packaging, decoration, construction and digital manufacturing. It is also possible to choose different finishings: smooth or texturized, matt, semi-matt or glossy and semi-transparent.

The material is part of a project called Kajkao: Biomaterials From Cacao and aims to make the cocoa harvesting process more sustainable and profitable. The project not only turns cocoa crop waste into a new compostable and biodegradable material but also helps to foster better living conditions for cocoa farmers and their communities.  Overall, the project promotes responsible consumption and offer high-quality goods by closing the chocolate production cycle.




Plastex | Black Matter

Austeja Platukyte

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital 


Austeja Platukyte is a material designer from Lithuania who combines experimental research with manipulation of existing knowledge. She creates materials and non-finite objects to be transformed by natural process and interpreted by viewers.

Plastex – Black matter is a research project that explores cellulose-based materials. The black matter is a chemical substance of cellulose-based materials Austeja Platukyte created during her experimental textile waste recycling and material research project at Sliperiet, Umeå University (Sweden).  The material is made of cellulose-based bioplastic mixed with charcoal which she harvested in a local surrounding and made a powder out of it. The material mixture was applied on a natural hemp fabric, shaped into the object, and left to dry for a very short time, while the fabric still transforms and creates solid objects from soft textile. 

In this research, Austeja speculated the future possibility of using only natural materials to create contemporary design objects, instead of using mixed or synthetic ones, which are harmful to the environment. In this experimental practice, she manages to join technology and art together into the well- balanced synergy between different disciplines and various physical substances. She explains that during her experimental process, she let the materials mix together freely and follow the natural fabric transformations into unexpected art and design objects.

While designers and companies explore different approaches to a circular design, we are convinced that materials matter more than ever. They can help reduce and, in some cases, eliminate waste and pollution out of products and services. They can even help us to regenerate natural systems and heal our planet.




Between_spaces Version 2

Magdalena Sophie Orland

FUORISALONE DIGITAL | 6 Top New Sustainable Designs from Isola Goes Digital 


Magdalena is a textile designer with a special focus on experimental material research and the development of innovative technologies. She is particularly interested in craftsmanship and the interface between traditional techniques and contemporary interpretations. Magdalena has created a new sustainable lance made of natural latex and copper.
Natural latex is extracted from rubber plants and therefore is a purely biological product, it is CO2 neutral, biodegradable, and free of harmful substances. It dries translucently and can be dyed well. The short drying time required allows quick processing.

The natural latex strong elasticity is a very positive aspect of the textile and fashion industry. In combination with other natural materials latex offers a wide range of experiments that allows the typical appearance of latex goods to be skipped and visually redefined. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are the main countries where we can find rubber plants, which is a disadvantage from a transport point of view. According to Magdalena, however, European spurge plants could be investigated in the next step and similar properties could be generated.


Ph credit: Magdalena Sophie Orland


*Data Sources https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/

All images credits: courtesy of designers and brands

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