According to the World Health Organization, 2 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, leading to waterborne diseases and over 500,000 deaths each year. Moreover, by 2040, roughly 1 in 4 children worldwide will be living in areas of extremely high water stress.
Kyran Knauf, a French-German freelance designer, decided to tackle this problem in his thesis project at the Design Academy in Eindhoven where he focused on courses related to the circular economy, low/high-tech products and speculative design. Kyran’s proposal is called Nebula Mesh and takes inspiration from the Cotula Fallax, a plant native to New Zealand that uses its structure to harvest water from the air.
Through biomimicry, Kyran has developed a 3D printed mesh that replicates the leaf structures of the Cotula Fallax: its fine hairs has been found to underpin the collection and retention of water droplets on the foliage for extended periods of time. The Nebula Mesh is modular, it can be hung or placed on its base, so that it can function in different contexts. The product is easily assembled through 4 simple steps: assemble the base, assemble the mesh with its strucure, assemble the two components and secure them. The structure was designed to be easily transported in remote or hard-to-reach areas.
The product was created not only to respond to a supply problem but also to infrastructures that are very often lacking or are vulnerable to external factors such as economic instability, natural disasters or political unrest. The final size of Nebula Mesh should be determined based on the specific needs and requirements of the community or individual user it is intended for.
Similarly to Nebula, even the fog collectors are solutions inspired by nature – the first documentations date back to the Inca empire, which exploited the water collected from the leaves of the trees – in this case, however, the modern structures have a mesh qith a vertical direction. The world’s largest “fog harvesting” system was built by WaterFoundation in Morocco to provide locals with clean water.