Food for Thought, New Materials

5 cool, blue ideas of Dutch Design Week 2018 – and 5 bloopers too..


Dutch Design week 2018, a week in which prominent designers and entrepreneurs present their work in Eindhoven. The BlueCity Lab team was looking forward to mind-blowing, innovative design helping to realize a circular society. After our visit we concluded that circular design was present in two ways. Many projects described themselves as circular, but were not really systemic solutions, such as a ceramic glaze from milk. A few cool projects from designers who already present at DDW for a number of years, now showed the great potential of biodesign. 

After having a look at the exhibitions, we felt the need for design that goes further than a ceramic glaze, a lamp, or formless samples with beautiful color. In order to transform tons of waste streams integrating people, planet, profit and impact, we need more radical envisions of how our circular society will look like. We loved the people we met (again) and talks organized by Dutch Design Week, such as the Alternatives to Plastics debate. And we hope to see more regenerative design in the years to come.

Photo: Care for Milk – Ekaterina Semenova

Say what?

Regenerative design for us is a material, product or concept which is integrated in systems, potentially scalable, and made of materials that are not harmful to the planet. For instance GISPEN, a corporate furniture company, just launched a new product made out of a waste steam and mycelium, the root rework of a mushroom. Read more here

Photo: Gispen circular. Workbox with mycelium panels.

Five blue takeaways from Dutch Design Week 2018
Out of the many different work we have seen, we selected five mind-blowing projects that we were thrilled to check (again). For your blue summary of Dutch Design Week, we listed them here.

Photo: The Anthroponix Test Kitchen in Bio Art Laboratories during Dutch Design Week 2018. 

  1. XYLO – fungi coating for wood
  2. Algae filament, New Material award, collaborative project, potentially large scale.
  3. Bio Art Laboratories – the place to be for bioartistic projects
  4. Kuang-Yi Ku (Design Academy) – tiger penis project
  5. Anthroponics – Fermented pee project

And oké, now that we are on a roll, we also really liked Blood Plastics, Living Color, and Neffa.

Photo: Living Colour by Laura Luchtman & Ilfa Siebenhaar

And five not-so-circular-after-all bloopers…

  1. Lichen, edible moss from Iceland.
    We did not like the taste, and we heard that it only grows in Iceland. Cool for the Icelanders, but no sustainable food-product for the rest of the world…
  2. Leather ‘alternatives’  that we already used thousands of years ago. (

NeoBio, “Een spannende toekomstvisie over de invloed van biotechnologie op productvormgeving”. Bad expectation management: we were looking tremendously forward to this project – but the mockup looked dreadful without Photoshop.

Photo: Neo Bio by Nicole Spit. 

Fungi are the future: living coating for your wooden furniture XYLO

An introvert, super cool startup from Enschede marketed a fungus that protects your wooden exterior. It is the world’s first biological and environmentally friendly solution for protecting the outdoor wood in a beautiful matte black finish. Support them on Kickstarter! They would like to raise money in order to make this coating accessible for every consumer.

Photo: Xyhlo Biofinish, a coating made with fungi and linseed oil.

New Material Award 2018 winner: Atelier Luma & Studio Klarenbeek & Dros

We congratulate Designers Eric Klarenbeek, Maartje Dros and Atelier Luma who won the New Material Award 2018! They developed algae-based biopolymers to replace synthetic and fossil oil-based plastics with a renewable alternative. Klarenbeek & Dros have set up the Algae Lab in collaboration with Atelier Luma. With a team of scientists, they research and cultivate local algae which are then converted into applicable biopolymers which are able to compete with fossil plastics. The material can be applied on an industrial scale and processed like other plastics, and has proven to be suitable for injection molding.

Bioart Laboratories

Super-woman Jalila Essaïdi founded this place in 2012, and she is a huge inspiration for the team behind BlueCity Lab. Last year, she got an considerable investment for her project on upcycling manure to textile Mestic. The location of her biolab, a former army base, was also cool to visit.

Kuang-Yi Ku (design Academy) – tiger penis project

Kuang-Yi Ku is exploring the potential of emerging biotechnology to create artificial animal parts for use in traditional Chinese medicine. There is a large demand for wild animals which cause a threat to conservation. But why not grow the parts required in the lab? Kuang-Yi proposes to bridge the conflict between cultural heritage and the environment.

Anthroponics  – (Bio Art Laboratory)

Every day we flush away 1.4 litres of our own urine with 33 litres of clean drinking water. We are using a lot of energy to throw away our bodily waste. But what if we could make this resource useful again? – Urine has a lot of untapped energy which we are now discarding, it contains the three main elements used in traditional fertilizer: Nitrogen Phosphorus artificial fertilizer is used on our land. If instead, body, we can use them to grow new life sustainably. Making ourselves part of the nutrient cycle again. Change starts at a personal level. That’s why Anthroponix proposes a solution you can implement urine into fertilizer for your own plants at home.

We are looking forward to next year. Hopefully even more sustainable, blue, circular and grown objects with a potential to change our existing linear economy.