Connect with us

Home & Kitchen

The Dezeen Guide to Bio-based Materials in Architecture, Design and Interiors



Thinking of using natural materials in your project? Our latest Dezeen guide includes 12 types of biomaterials commonly used in architecture, design and interiors.

The term biomaterials is used to describe building materials derived from living organisms including plants, animals and fungi.

Plant-based materials, which we mostly focus on in this guide, are becoming increasingly popular among designers and architects due to their environmental performance.

This is because they offer cruelty-free production, are usually biodegradable and store CO2 during their useful lifetime, thereby lowering the embodied carbon footprint of buildings and products.

Some, like wood and hemp, can be used in their raw state while others such as algae, mycelium and food waste are generally mixed with other materials to be turned into useful composites.

Architects could “definitely” construct buildings completely out of biomaterials according to Biobased Creations CEO Lucas De Man, who told Dezeen that timber, hemp and mycelium could replace non-renewable materials like steel, plasterboard and cement.

Sequestering carbon is an important way to tackle climate change. Plant matter including algae, timber and hemp capture carbon from the atmosphere and transform it into biomass via photosynthesis.

With the recent focus on embodied carbon emissions, biomaterials are a “really exciting space”, agreed Arup researcher and innovation leader Jan Wurm.

Read on to find out more about the most popular types of biomaterials and how they can be put to use.


Hemp is a type of cannabis plant that is grown for medicinal and industrial use. Unlike marijuana, it has very low levels of psychoactive THC.

Hemp grows extremely quickly and is “more effective than trees” at sequestering carbon, according to Cambridge University researcher Darshil Shah.

The plant’s strong, stiff fibres can be processed into a variety of commercial goods including paper, textiles, bio-plastic, food and bio-fuel as well as industrial and construction products.

Mexico City design studio ATRA has used hemp-based fabric to upholster a sofa, while architecturally the hemp is most often processed into hempcrete.

This is formed from the woody inner part of the plant’s stem, which is mixed with lime, water and sand to create a material that offers excellent thermal and acoustic insulation while acting as a carbon sink. An example of hemp used in buildings is Flat House in Cambridge (pictured), which was constructed using hempcrete panels.

See projects featuring hemp >


Mycelium is the vegetative part of a fungus, made up of masses of branching, threaded shoots called hyphae that grow in soil.

The material can feed on low-grade agricultural waste and sequesters carbon stored in the biomass as it grows. Mycelium is fast-growing and can be cultivated in industrial bioreactors.

Sclerotia can be used to produce products including packaging such as Amen’s candle packaging, as well as lampshades and furniture, as prototyped by Sebastian Cox and Ninela Ivanova.

Mycelium’s has proven to be extremely popular in the fashion industry as a leather alternative, with brands such as Stella McCartney, Adidas, Hermes and Kering investing in the biomaterial. Earlier this year, Hermes unveiled a partnership with MycoWorks, a biomaterials company, to reconceptualise its Victoria shopper bag (pictured) in a mycelium leather.

See projects featuring mycelium >


Algae is an umbrella term for a group of photosynthetic organisms that mainly live in water. This includes seaweeds and kelp, which are the most important sources of oxygen in water and together are responsible for storing and sequestering more carbon than land plants.

Algae is often processed into bioplastic polymers, which can then be used as a replacement for fossil plastics.

The material has also been gaining popularity within the fashion industry for its use as a bioplastic. In 2019, Charlotte McCurdy created a raincoat using biopolymers entirely derived from algae. The industrial designer later collaborated with fashion designer Philip Lim to create a dress covered in algae bioplastic sequins (pictured).

See projects featuring algae >


Chitin is a fibrous substance that forms the exoskeleton of crustaceans and certain insects, as well as the cell walls of fungi.

The material is the world’s second-most abundant biopolymer. But to use chitin, it must be chemically extracted before being processed into a useable material.

Due to the difficult extraction process, commercially available versions of chitin such as chitosan are typically expensive. In reaction to this, four designers from the Royal College of Art and Imperial College developed a number of machines that extract and turn chitin into a bioplastic.

See projects featuring chitin >


Wood is a renewable material that offers a low-carbon alternative to concrete and steel. Due to its highly machinable, lightweight structural tissue, which is strong yet flexible, wood has historically been used to construct furniture and products as well as small houses.

Recent advances in engineered timber, also known as mass timber, has allowed the material to be used at larger scales, with Voll Arkitekter building the world’s tallest timber building, a 53-metre-high tower in Norway (pictured).

In the world of product design, Yves Behar combined sawdust mixed with tree-sap to create 3D-printable homeware while Carlo Ratti Associati designed a concept for a compostable marker pen that would be made from a choice of biodegradable materials including wood.

See projects featuring wood >


Although commonly mistaken as a type of tree, bamboo is actually a grass. Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on the planet, making it both affordable, rapidly renewable and capable of sequestering large amounts of carbon.

Its canes lend themselves to creating light, flexible structures that can resist natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes.

Architecture studio Vin Varavarn used bamboo to build an agricultural learning centre in Thailand, while Music electronics brand House of Marley used the plant to make wireless earbuds (pictured) that are an “eco-conscious alternative” to plastic earphones.

See projects featuring bamboo >

Leather alternatives

With awareness about the emissions and animal cruelty associated with large-scale cattle farming, leather alternatives are increasingly rising in popularity.

These are typically made using renewable biomass sources such as vegetable and food waste. But some designers have also used waste from industrial agricultural processes to produce their materials.

There are currently a vast number of vegan and leather alternatives including mycelium leather Mylo and Leap (pictured), which is made from waste apple cores and skins from the production of cider and apple juice.

A vegan leather by Tjeerd Veenhoven was created from the leaves of the area palm and has similar qualities to Pinatex, a leather alternative made from pineapples. Vietnamese designer Uyen Tran created a leather alternative from waste coffee grounds and chitin. The material, which was titled Tomtex can be embossed to replicate a variety of animal leathers.

See projects featuring leather alternatives >


Bioplastics are polymers derived from biological and renewable sources as opposed to plastics made from fossil fuels.

Polylactic acid (PLA) is the most common bioplastic. It is typically made using corn starch or sugar cane. PLA is widely used as printable filament in 3D printers, where PLA filament is fed through the printer and melted at high temperatures to create a malleable substance that is printed into the desired form.

Design Studio Ammunition and light company Gantri 3D-printed PLA to create wall sconces and lamps. Another example of PLA-based products is Studio RYTE’s biodegradable Triplex, which is made from flax fibres mixed with PLA.

Other bioplastics include MarinaTex (pictured), a single-use material that is made from key ingredients including fish scales and skin, which was designed by British designer Lucy Hughes.

See projects featuring bioplastic >


Linoleum is a biodegradable material made from plant-based materials including linseed oil, pine resin, cork dust and sawdust. The material is typically used as a floor covering due to its durable and resistant characteristics.

The material was first patented in 1860 when rubber manufacturer, Fredrick Walton discovered linseed-based paint formed a tough and flexible film on its surface. Most Linoleum today is derived from linseed oil, which is extracted from flax seeds and then mixed with materials such as cork and wood dust.

In 2018, designer Don Kwaning developed Lino Leather from a series of experiments using linoleum. Kwaning created two materials that emulate leather of different structures, thicknesses and textures.

MSDS Studio added speckled linoleum furniture to the interior of a Toronto flower shop (pictured). A large island and shop counter were wrapped in the material for its affordable and humble qualities said the designers.

See projects featuring linoleum >


Cork, which is gathered from the outer bark of the cork oak tree is a popular material among designers and architects due to its compostable and easily harvestable qualities. Cork House used sustainably-sourced, cork blocks to build its five-volume structure which was supported by timber components.

The Cork Studio is a garden building that is made almost entirely out of cork. The structure was constructed by Studio Bark as a building prototype that can be completely recycled, reused or composted.

French designer Noe Duchaufour-Lawrance used the discarded material to create a furniture collection of amorphous forms and a range of different textures.

See projects featuring cork >


Straw is an agricultural byproduct that is comprised of the dry stalks of cereal plants after the grain has been harvested. The material is often used in construction and offers homes a renewable, biodegradable form of insulation. LCA Architetti used straw as insulation within the walls of The House of Wood, Straw and Cork (pictured).

The Exquisite Corpse is a collection of marquetry that comprises three handmade furniture pieces decorated with straw that was dyed vibrant, colours.

See projects featuring straw >


Cellulose is a structural compound typically found within the cell walls of green plants, the material can be extracted from a variety of plants including trees, often being used to create fibres. Swedish label Kon produced a range of gender-neutral underwear that was made from plant-based cellulose.

Barcelona-based startup Hontext developed a construction board material that is derived from a combination of enzymes and cellulose (pictured) sourced from waste streams of paper production. The fibres are saved from going to landfills or being burnt and turned into construction boards to be used for interior partitioning or cladding.

Anna Piasek created a modular takeaway food packaging that can be sub-divided into smaller sections to accommodate multiple dishes. The packaging was made from moulded cellulose, that was pressed into shape using a metal mould and then dried in an oven and coated.

See projects featuring cellulose >

Original Source:

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Home & Kitchen

Vives St-Laurent Creates Tactile Montreal Home



Interior design studio Vives St-Laurent has remodelled a family house in Montreal, Canada, using a grey colour palette, quartzite stone and white-oak furniture to create an interior that highlights the building’s architectural elements.

Vives St-Laurent aimed to retain many of the existing early 20th-century features, including the staircase, original plaster mouldings and fireplace, while making significant changes to improve the two-storey house in Outremont, Montreal.

“We opened the kitchen to have a better view with the other spaces like the living room and the dining room,” co-founder Lysanne St-Laurent told Dezeen.

“This intervention also creates better circulation in the house.”

“We have also changed the entrance to the staircase which was previously in the kitchen area,” she added.

“This allowed us to save more space for cabinets. We have also enlarged the access to the terrace and changed the French windows for a sliding door.”

Vives St-Laurent created a simple interior that could function as a blank canvas for the clients’ accessories, which included artworks and vases.

The studio chose to work with a white and grey colour palette to highlight the home’s original elements, including the staircase, the mouldings and the white fireplace.

To contrast the pale colours, the studio restored the house’s dark-coloured American walnut floor to its original state.

The dark wood of the floor also looks striking against the customised white-oak furniture pieces, which include a dining table and a large bookshelf that adds extra storage to the dining room.

In the kitchen, the studio used quartzite Taj Mahal stone, creating an elegant splashback above workspaces clad in the same material.

“The soft gray kitchen is a bit darker than the wall finish, so it pops,” St-Laurent said. “The gray and green tones of the stone give depth but remain simple.”

Naturehumaine revives 1920s apartment in Montreal with contemporary finishes

“We think the project is simple without being simplistic, because we take time to balance all the details so there is a seamless feel,” she added.

The studio worked with architecture studio Pelletier de Fontenay to remodel the basement part of the house and restore its back facade.

To enhance the visual connection with the yard outside, it added a large sliding door and enlarged the window above the kitchen sink.

“The architect chose an anodized finish for the window so it wouldn’t be drastic like a black framed window would be,” St-Laurent explained.

“The finish changes with natural light and creates a softer setting to capture the nature of the backyard.”

Other recent Montreal interior projects on Dezeen include a 1920s apartment with contemporary finishes and a historic house with Japandi elements.

The photography is by Alex Lesage.

Project credits:

Designer: Vives St-Laurent
Project manager: Laurence Ouimet-Vives
Collaborators: Antares / Pelletier de Fontenay
Suppliers: Ramacieri Soligo, Strong as wood, Alumilex et Gepetto


Continue Reading

Home & Kitchen

“Any Period of Sobriety Is Generally Followed by Heady Abandonment”



Sustainability will be the focus of the year ahead, but coronavirus lockdowns will make way for “unbridled frivolity” in interior design, says Michelle Ogundehin in her trends report for 2022.

2021 was thus not a year for trends. It was a year of uncomfortable truths. At the end of my last trends report, I proposed 2021 as “the year for the interiors equivalent of speaking your own truth” understanding “that the best homes are about the feeling they give you not the stuff they contain, the ‘right’ colours or ‘hot’ looks.”

The most poignant of these was that we are all products of our environment. And we were making a right mess of ours. Not just on the wider climate scale, but also domestically. I’d even written a book drawing a direct line between our homes and our health: Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness. It was published as the first waves of Covid hit UK shores, but conceived way before the word pandemic had entered the popular lexicon.

Its message was simple: what surrounds you affects you. And while many of us know this intuitively, for the scientifically inclined, there’s a Stanford University study that proves environment is more important than genetics in determining the strength of your immune system.

Most fashionable trends are simply manufacturer dictated newness

All grist for the mill of intentional personal space creation. In other words, homes that reflect an occupant’s authentic likes and lives rather than being determined by anything dictated externally.

So where does this leave trends?

In truth we know that most “fashionable” trends are simply manufacturer dictated “newness” designed, in the loosest sense of the word, to shift product. But there are also bigger shifts that underly these seasonal fluctuations. These are the lateral moves we make as a society (highlighted by consumer research, or early adopters) that eventually bubble up to the mainstream as potent influencing factors. These are the “trends” worthy of comment.

“The uncomfortable truth is that 2020 might just have been exactly what we needed”

As such, right now, sustainability is the obvious thread connecting anything relevant for 2022.

It’s finally dawning on the majority that it’s less about the planet being in jeopardy, than us. The planet has seen worse, we have not. We are the ones in danger of extinction. But it’s not too late (just) to do something about it.

Sustainability is the obvious thread connecting anything relevant for 2022

Albeit I’m leaping to the assumption that the bosses of our worst air, water and plastic polluting corporations (China Coal and Saudi Aramco to Coca-Cola, Pepsico and Unilever among others) start focusing their might on species survival rather than lucrative personal tenures. Things are happening, but too slowly.

Regardless, my faith still rests with the power of the everyman and the nudges for change we can make as individuals. A 2020 report by the IBM Institute for Business Value showed that six out of 10 consumers are ready to change their purchasing behaviour to minimise their environmental footprint. This has power because options exist, consumers switch and such direct impact on corporate bottom lines forces change.

Today the only question worth asking any brand, supplier or corporation is simply, can you make what you do responsibly, as standard ie without endangering our air, waterways, mammal or marine life? Because if you can’t, we don’t want you. And no company today wants to be open juried or cancelled via social media.

Any period of sobriety is generally followed by heady abandonment

But they will be as our eyes are increasingly opened to the obfuscation, deliberate spread of misinformation, lobbying against environmental measures, and hypocrisy employed to protect perilous corporate status quos. And this covers everything from the manufacture of washing-up liquid that’s legally deemed chronically harmful to aquatic life (read the label on the back of a bottle of Fairy Liquid) to high acrylic content paint, a major source of microplastic pollution.

In most cases, injurious options exist only because they cost pence to produce but sell for pounds aka ching ching, maximum profit. But the tide is turning.

However, while this is the backdrop against which everything else is measured, decoratively speaking, all herald unbridled frivolity, the return of joy and a dose of the pretty. It makes sense though; it represents an element of release after being so tightly wound that we cannot help but be intuitively drawn to.

Any period of sobriety is generally followed by heady abandonment; denial begets indulgence — consider the Roaring 20s after world war one. Cue then rooms drenched in full-fat colour and joyous prints applied with enthusiastic abandon to walls, floors, if not ceilings. Think wallpaper and rugs to parquetry and narrative mosiacs.

The success of the Netflix romp Bridgerton (pictured) was the torchbearer for this in my opinion. First aired on Christmas Day 2020, it clocked 82 million viewing households in its first 28 days (by the streamering company’s own reckoning). Steamy, indulgent and diverse, it was viewing manna for the sensory-starved and lockdowned at home. Stylistically speaking, it was also just incredibly pleasing to watch, all Wisteria drenched porticos, torch-lit colonnades, dapper men and pastel silks.

Waste made wonderful will be essential to support a new sustainable economy

Set in the homes of England’s 19th-century Regency elite, for the wealthy this was a period of artful elegance and decoration for the sake of it, founded on classical tropes but inspired by Egypt to India. The country was ruled by the fiscally extravagant, culturally adept and party-loving Prince Regent and life in the upper echelons was lush, fun and romantic.

An eagerly anticipated second series of the show will premiere on March 25th 2022. Rest assured this sentimental recolouring of history will prompt a Neo-Regency as we freshly appreciate the uplifting potential of architectural adornment, both inside and out.

The evolving wave of biofabricated materials taps into this romantic milieu too. Rather than toxic tanneries and slaughtered animals we have pineapple leaves (Pi?atex) and Mexican cacti (Desserto) being turned into leather substitutes. Meanwhile, everything from discarded coffee grounds and shrimp shells, tea leaves and nut husks are being made into desirable products.

Seven key materials designers are relying on to create more sustainable products

It’s just as well. Waste made wonderful will be essential to support a new sustainable economy. After all, consumerism isn’t going anywhere. We will still want to wear nice clothes, buy lovely things and drink takeaway coffee, but we need to do so in a way that gives back.

Even at the luxury end of the market, notions of repair, recycling and re-use will predominate with the emphasis on the uniqueness of the remade product. There will be no loss of style or quality. It will be the same artisans crafting the products. But the desire to own brand new no longer carries the allure it once did. We want heritage, stories and clear provenance instead. Plus, today’s acutely aware consumer wants to literally wear their ecological credentials on their arms and backs and sit on it in their homes.

A lot of the big trends of the last 10 years were driven by technologically enhanced convenience

Thus, from homes designed for Friluftsliv — the Nordic ideal of being outdoors in all weathers — to IKEA pledging to be a totally circular and climate positive business by 2030, and Hempcrete coming through as a credible alternative to concrete, the new normal home-making experience is changing. Even long-term furniture rental, rather than purchase, is gathering steam. So much so that British high street stalwart John Lewis are getting in on the act, partnering with Fat Llama, the world’s largest rental marketplace to offer a flexible, affordable way to experiment at home without waste. It all adds up to a reason for hope.

“It’s time to reconsider the whole colour of the year carnival”

In summary, a lot of the big trends of the last ten years were driven by technologically enhanced convenience. We wanted everything quicker, smaller, faster and yesterday, regardless of the consequences.

Life sped up to keep pace, accrued air miles were shorthand for success, and cover up, smooth out, quick fix solutions were the go-to (from surface finishes to cladding via the feature wall) and damn the consequences.

We’re paying for that now. As the anthropologist and primatologist Jane Goodall says in her newly released, The Book of Hope, authored with Douglas Abrams and Gail Hudson, “If we keep pulling threads from the tapestry of life it will disintegrate and we will lose what supports us.”

Wisdom for the future then relies on us finally knowing our place, recognising our responsibility to the natural world. In short, for us to earn the right to stay here, there must be a new cultural revolution.

The most incredible opportunities exist right now for us and every single brand to be a game-changing trailblazer for the greater good. This could be the restoration era: repairing planet and people one conscious choice at a time. Our freedom to survive, let alone thrive, depends upon on those choices.

Michelle Ogundehin is a thought-leader on interiors, trends, style and wellbeing. Originally trained as an architect and the former editor-in-chief of ELLE Decoration UK, she is the head judge on the BBC’s Interior Design Masters, and the author of Happy Inside: How to Harness the Power of Home for Health and Happiness, a guide to living well. She is also a regular contributor to many prestigious publications worldwide including Vogue Living, FT How to Spend It magazine and Dezeen.


Continue Reading

Home & Kitchen

Yakusha Design Creates Earthy Interiors for Antwerp’s Faina Gallery



A colour scheme informed by soil and moss features inside this showroom in Antwerp, Belgium, which Yakusha Design has developed for its own furniture line Faina.

The retail space, named Faina Gallery, is set inside a 500-year-old building.

As a result, the studio steered away from making major structural alterations to avoid disturbing its historic framework.

Instead, the Ukrainian studio devised a new colour palette, painting walls throughout the shop in earthy shades that evoke the natural world.

“I wanted to convey this feeling of grounding serenity in the interior,” explained Victoria Yakusha, who founded both Yakusha Design and Faina.

“Nothing is more powerful than the energy of earth. When standing on bare earth, I am one with nature, I gain strength.”

Upon entering Faina Gallery, visitors walk into a room almost entirely washed with a deep, mossy green paint.

The only surfaces untouched by the colour are the grey terrazzo floors and the ceiling, which has been left in its original state.

Matching green furnishings are displayed throughout the space, including Faina’s angular Toptun armchairs and three of its knobbly hand-sculpted Soniah floor lamps.

There is also a beige edition of the Plyn sofa, with its gently curving cushions stacked on top of each other “like stones that have been naturally polished by wild waters”.

A bespoke stainless steel shelving unit runs the length of one of the walls.

Designed to resemble a cabinet of curiosities, it showcases an array of Faina’s ceramic ornaments alongside a number of scents for the home.

Yakusha Design applies dark tones throughout its Kyiv offices

The storage unit is interrupted by a steel-lined doorway that leads through to Faina Gallery’s second room.

This space has been painted jet-black in a nod to chernozem, a highly fertile black soil that is found in abundance throughout Ukraine.

The furniture presented here is dark, too. One corner of the room is dominated by a black version of Faina’s hole-punctured Ztista table while a charcoal-grey model of the brand’s bulbous Domna chair sits nearby.

There’s also a wall-mounted black tapestry emblazoned with the word “earth”, written in the symbol-based writing system of the ancient Cucuteni-Trypillia civilisation, which lived in Ukraine in the fifth millennium BC.

Victoria Yakusha established her eponymous studio in 2006 before launching Faina in 2014.

Her practice has previously designed a number of interiors in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, including Yakusha Design’s own office and a calm, tactile fast food restaurant.

The photography is by Piet-Albert Goethals.


Continue Reading