UK-based trend forecasters Scarlet Opus return to Index Design Series this month with their Trends Hub and Trend Tour to explore various materials, which promote more conscious design.
In the ongoing quest for sustainability, materials such as discarded fish skin, peanut shells and rice husks, are now finding their way into the wider design domain.
Fish skin leather, for example, is now finding uses in upholstery, furniture and across accessories – such as on cushions. Rice and nuts can be found as base structure materials, while fabrics discarded from the fashion world are used to insulate, and waste magazines are becoming wall coverings.
Victoria Redshaw, lead futurist at Scarlet Opus, explains: “As consumer desire grows for makers to be more responsible about the materials they use, their production processes and how they address waste in getting products to market, designers are getting ever more creative and innovative in their search for eco-friendly materials.
“Sometimes the use of unexpected materials comes from a serendipitous event, but mostly it’s through the efforts of niche-designers, younger creatives with a passion to design in sustainable ways and find waste by-product of the food industry.
“Fish skin leather has been used for some time in fashion, but is now finding its way into the hands of very good designers in the interiors world. This is because the raw material is much more readily available to them and is using what is otherwise mostly waste. Using them not only helps to reduce waste material disposal around the world – which in many countries is very expensive – it also avoids the need to ‘manufacture’ new materials or cause the partial use of yet more natural resources.”
With their alternative feel and cheaper cost, the materials are now superseding the more traditional for many designers.
“Our Trends Hub and Trend Tour will really open people’s eyes to the changing of the guard in traditional material use. Index prides itself on looking to the future of design and – although it may sound outlandish – foodstuffs are now crossing into the textural and architectural sides of design and having a genuine impact. Not only does this present major environmental and financial benefits, but exciting new opportunities for design too,” says Index director Samantha Kane-Macdonald.
The Index Trends Hub will showcase eight products from around the world that have been designed and manufactured to achieve 100% sustainability. Those include a salmon-skin drum table made, a pasta bowl made out of one million year-old slate, and a pair of sunglasses devised from shrub-plants.