The design week is here, and Omuus has been around to see what the future designers are up to these days! As it has been earlier discussed (find our previous posts Today’s problems – Tomorrow’s possibilities & Bio design) the knowledge and demand on sustainable materials is growing ever higher, this is no strange topic to the students at Aalto university either.   

Several exhibitions show that material development is going toward a more sustainable and nature first approach. Using waste from wood and food industry and also finding natural options from our nature is the way to go. This does not only support an environmental approach but also creates materials that provoke our senses with new kinds of textures, scents and properties. Therefore, these materials can also evoke new relationships to products through calming and relaxing feelings by being closer to nature.  

Natural indigo is a project that studies the possibilities to utilize natural sources for dyeing. In Finland grows a crop called dyer’s woad (värimorsinko) which yields a non-toxic blue dye. Using such a dye helps to reduce the water pollution caused by textile industry, of which one fifth is due to the dyeing of textiles and the synthetic chemicals used in the process.  

Natural Indigo.

Wood cellulose and wood waste are smart raw materials to use in Finland as 78% of its acreage is forestry land. Currently the forestry residues such as spine needles and spruce spark are not used for anything. More than half of every cut tree trunk is chips, sawdust, bark, branches and leaves that are not yet used efficiently. Projects such as The alder project, Leather from woods, FoRest, Cellulose on ice and Acoustic brick are all utilizing this waste for new kind of materials.  

Leather from the woods.


Acoustic brick and cellulose on ice.

Another rising trend is to create materials from food industry waste, one example being the potato starch industry which produces four to five times waste of the actual starch produced. Edible potato tableware exploits this waste into tableware or packaging that is both edible and biodegradable.   

Edible potato tableware.