Earth’s natural resources are having something of a renaissance as designers are once again seeing the beauty in unadulterated organic material. Terracotta and earthy browns are the foundation for a very organic warm palette.
Respect for nature combines with technological and scientific innovation in a design direction that channels craft through a contemporary filter. Local materials and heritage industries are gaining fresh appreciation, as consumers and designers alike begin to recognise the value in the knowledge and traditions of generations past.
In a backlash against industrial products made of synthetic materials and a homogenised minimalist aesthetic, we are seeing a refreshed appreciation for raw, rugged shapes and colour. It’s not just about utilising Earth’s natural resources but about turning organic waste into workable material.
Founded by agricultural entrepreneur Gianantonio Locatelli, the Museo della Merda (Museum of Shit) is located on a dairy farm in Lombardy, northern Italy, and it procures more than milk from its bovine residents. Locatelli has created a process that extracts methane gas from their manure – generating up to three megawatts of energy per hour. The remaining material becomes Merdacotta, a clay composite of the processed cow dung, which is used to create products including flower pots and tableware.
Similarly making use of waste matter are Jonas Edvard and Nikolaj Steenfatt, who harvest seaweed washed up on the Danish coast to produce a biodegradable material composite, which is used to make furniture.
The designers dry out the seaweed, then grind it into a powder, which is combined with recycled paper to create a mouldable pulp that is used to make chairs, tables and more. The resulting material is honest to its origins, as the designers neglect to alter the earthy green colouring of the degrading substance.
Also pushing materials through out-of-the-ordinary processes is Lilianna Ovalle in her collaboration with Colectivo 1050. Open Fires is an exploratory project comprising a series of ceramic firing exercises. The result is a collection of smoke and fire-stained ceramics in a stark juxtaposition of warm terracotta orange and charcoal grey.
From rusted orange, through dense olive-green and muddy browns to chalky, warm greys, this material-inspired palette covers a spectrum of naturally occurring and naturally altered tones.
Read on to see how organic greens and yellows will influence the design scene