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Brief Published: 24 May 2021

Eggshells Transformed into Architectural Tiles

Nature Squared

British-Chinese designer Elaine Yan Ling Ng has developed a new surface material made using waste eggshells collected from London bakeries. The project sees the designer join a growing number of studios and manufacturers developing materials that explore the functional and aesthetic value of waste in architecture and interior design.

The material, called CArrelé, is made by baking ground eggshells that have been treated with natural dyes. Indigo, madder and chlorophyl give them a bright colour, while baking at different temperatures achieves interesting tonal variations for a decorative appearance.

The material is being developed for Swiss luxury surface company Nature Squared, where Ng is chief material innovator. It is currently set for use as a decorative wall tile in the company’s interior projects. However, Ng has also used it to create a series of stools and small home accessories, illustrating that it can be moulded to suit a variety of design applications.

Global egg production reached 78 million metric tons in 2018, resulting in an estimated 8.58 million metric tons of discarded eggshells (ResearchGate, 2020). These shells release methane as they break down, and using them in a composite material will prevent these CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Eggshells are suitable for architectural surfaces because they are strong, durable, and a globally abundant resource. “Calcium carbonate is one of the most common resources nature provides,” says Ng. “If we can turn this into a useful resource, it will be a very important reserve.”

The high energy consumption needed to produce conventional building materials, such as cement, is encouraging designers to consider alternative solutions – and food waste offers a largely untapped resource. As we report in our Dutch Design Week 2020 coverage, more designers and manufacturers are harnessing this waste and working with the food industry to scale up solutions.

For more on how waste materials are being used in construction and other product categories, see The Wealth in Waste.