A designer and engineer have teamed up to create a new eco-friendly plastic made from algae.
One hundred years after the introduction of Bakelite, plastic has become a ubiquitous material in every sector of our lives. Catastrophes like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch force us to acknowledge the detrimental affects of plastic, so designers and engineers across the globe are researching and developing alternative materials to plastic for a variety of applications.
Originating from a flexible membrane made of alginate, a substance extracted from the walls of brown algae, this bioligically-inspired plant-based plastic both reduces landfill waste and is edible. The "bottle" is made from a membrane that wraps itself around the liquid and then hardens into a tear-drop shaped vessel after being soaked in a sodium chloride bath.
Francois Azambourg is no stranger to experimentation with sustainable materials. Often called a "poet of materials", Azambourg continually explores new materials in search of sustainable alternatives. His Lin 94 chair uses a natural composite material made from flax, which uses less energy to produce than both glass and carbon fibers but maintains the same lightness and strength. The chair is made from 94 percent renewable materials and uses 80 percent plant-based epoxy resin in the composite.
The algae-based plastic project, entitled Design Cellulaire, is currently on exhibition at Le Laboratoire in Paris until January 30th, 2011. You can see more of Azambourg's work, including the Lin 94 chair, as part of the Why Design Now? National Design Triennial on view at the Cooper-Hewitt until January 9th, 2011.