Upcycled waste: sustainable furniture and homewares made from eggshells, earth, paper, fruit peel – even blood
Author: Peta Tomlinson
At the University of Hong Kong, adjunct assistant professor Dennis Cheung Hoi-kwan, architect and founding partner of Studio Ryte, whose focus is material innovation and novel construction techniques, challenges his Design+ programme students to test ways in which waste can sustainably be used to create new materials for furniture or construction. “The students pick any type of waste or leftover material they think might have potential, imagine an end product, and then do a lot of experiments, formula testing and mock-ups to gauge its viability,” Cheung explains. The aim, he says, is “more about investigation” than product commercialisation. “I’ve been trying to push the boundaries with them,” he adds of the course, Alternative Material, launched in 2021 and continuing in 2023. Yu and Heung say they would like to see these 100 per cent biodegradable pieces go into commercial production. They also hope to produce a DIY kit farmers could use to make furniture for sale, thereby boosting their income. Another project explored the potential of egg and oyster shells as a sustainable construction material. By adding oyster shells to the mix, the students came up with a formula showing that these calcium-rich bivalve shells, when pulverised, baked in an oven and soaked with a fabric mesh reinforcer, can be as strong as cement, only far more eco-friendly.