Swedish design studio Tomorrow Machine has created prototype tableware pieces made from cellulose that – due to a resistant coating – do not require cleaning.
The cellulose is made into a sheet before being heat-pressed into shape, and the resulting forms are lighter and stronger than ceramic. The items are then covered in a superhydrophobic coating that creates a water and dirt-resistant surface.
Developed by the KTH Royal Institute of Technology, the treatment has not yet been adopted by industry. The coating application is particularly suited for products and spaces that require absolute cleanliness, such as culinary or medical environments.
“As wood becomes increasingly more expensive and complicated to source, as with many raw materials, this coating could be a real solution for prolonging the life of any product,” says Kuan Chi Hau, senior editor of Colour & Materials at Stylus.
The studio, known for its innovative packaging, product and food concepts, worked in collaboration with Stockholm-based research company Innventia on this project. It was commissioned by the Swedish Forest Industries Federation to imagine how cellulose could be used in products in 2035.
Feeling the growing pressure of depleting resources, designers and brands are looking for alternative production methods and materials that will allow them to sustain success in an uncertain future. For more on this, see Closing the Loop: Future-Proofing Design and Doing Without Water. For more on advanced smart coatings, see Materials Focus 2014: Transformative Layers and Adaptive Material Inspired by Tears.