Founded in October 2021 by Benedikt Peirotén, designer based in Munich, Studio peipei has a very interesting approach to design: avoid linear production methods that extract material from earth and leave waste behind.
Nature does not produce waste, even by-products and leftovers have value. We can learn from this by taking care of existing waste and designing natural and recyclable products for the long term. Studio peipei takes responsibility by embracing the joy of sustainability. The manifest reads: We are born into a world built on consumption and waste. We do not accept that every action leaves a trace and that this has consequences for the entire world. We still ignore the fact that personal well-being can no longer be separated from global well-being. Climate change will force us to further develop our traditions and greenwashing won’t help. This is not a finger pointing, this is a handshake.
One of the studio’s projects, example of the aforementioned approach is From the Ashes. Glass is often seen as sustainable, because it can be recycled endlessly. But if you look closer, it’s not that easy. In addition to a high level of hidden energy, various ingredients are required that are mostly problematic. Glass usually requires three components: sand, Sodium Carbonate and Calcium Carbonate. As with most industrial processes, the availability of these ingredients is changing dramatically due to climate change and human production methods.
Sodium Carbonate as a flux lowers the melting point by about 250° C. After extraction in salt lakes, it is manufactured using the Solvay process, which requires a high level of water and energy as well as quicklime: Rare limestone heated to 1000° C. On top of that, many natural salt lakes are shrinking rapidly due to global warming. “Since 1847, the volume of water level has dropped nearly 50 percent. More recently, the change has been so dramatic, you can see it from space.” Limestone – formed over hundreds of millions of years – is removed in large mines to get Calcium Carbonate. Our annual usage is about 5000 million tons of limestone. It’s estimated that the largest mine in Europe will be exhausted in 2048.
This new glass created by Studio peipei discovers infinite supply chains by using waste which has no value so far: ashes from wood-fired pizzerias and clam shells from seafood restaurants. Private wood-burning stoves are also a valuable source, and many more such as grills and fire pits have been tested. These renewable raw materials are available in large quantities in many cities and have so far been thrown away.
Two out of three ingredients are recycled waste. Sodium carbonate can be extracted from wood ash. A forgotten flux that was used in previous years. Seashells consist largely of calcium carbonate and once formed some of the limestones. Finely ground they give glass the well-known durability.
With From the ashes, Studio peipei created a 100% natural glass, free of toxic or limited additives and made for next generations. Glass scraps are included in some objects to further accelerate melting and thus save gas. This addition is visible in the darker color of some products. The project was recently awarded the Green Concept Award 2022.