How designers are exploring the use of human waste as an abundant, sustainable material
Designers are challenging the negative connotations surrounding human and animal biological waste and exploring its use as an abundant, sustainable material
with the world’s population expected to exceed nine billion by 2050, shit, hair and dust generated by humans and the animals they keep are among the few natural resources whose abundance is increasing. Now new technologies are allowing designers to take advantage of this ever-expanding material.
Fabio Hendry and Martijn Rigters, for instance, have developed a way to turn hair into an ink. This can be used on various metals to create decorative surface effects. The designers drew inspiration from both old ceramic techniques and contemporary printing processes to develop their methods. Using locally sourced offcuts from hairdressers’ floors, the project aims to reposition hair as an abundant and sustainable printing medium.
The Dust Jewelry collection by Ágústa Sveinsdóttir, meanwhile, reinterprets dust as a precious raw material, and in the process, poses questions about material worth. ‘We always demand that everything should be flawless but in the end, everything is dust or becomes dust. Is it possible to make use of materials that have always been considered nothing more than useless dirt?’ asks the designer.
Sveinsdóttir gathered dust from derelict buildings across Iceland, including abandoned farms, bound it using a biodegradable adhesive, and used it to coat metal rings and bangles. The dust coating gradually wears away to reveal the structure of the jewellery beneath, making transformation and disintegration an integral part of the design.
THE COLOUR OF HAIR BY FABIO HENDRY AND MARTIJN RIGTERS