In the last few years, a lot of new materials are creating interest in the design world, showing us how the industry is trying to invest in the idea of non-waste, natural materials, recycling and upcycling. Therefore, a lot of designers are trying to push themselves, leaving aside more traditional technologies and materials, and using what is left behind by industry and consumption.
A great example of this mentality is the Highsociety, a studio from Bolzano, Italy, founded in 2015 by Johannes Kiniger and Giulia Farancena Casaro. With a complete different background, Kiniger from electrical engineering and Casaro from fashion design, they reconnected their work with nature through the practice of a design interconnected with the territory and its materials. They decided to design objects upcycling the post-industrial waste of some raw materials, typical of Italian production.
Their collections are made from the waste of hemp, tobacco, wine, but also coffee and beer. Each ingredient comes from an industrial fields in which Italy excels, in which is present a large-scale production and refinery. This means also waste in large scale, to be potentially treated and used in a lot of different sectors.
Highsociety’s productive process is a hybrid, merging industry and craftsmanship, true Italian excellence – in the last few years, several design studios are experimenting this way of producing, especially in Italy.
Their pendants collection Highlight recall an archetypal shape, a “bell”, simple but elegant, and scaled in different dimension to fit different environments. Each piece is created with the typically industrial compression and molding methodology, but the surface pattern has a unique aesthetic, thanks to the arrangement of the material inside the mold. The customization given by the mold becomes an added value to the object.
The calm green of hemp, the dark yellow of the tobacco and the immersive bordeaux of the grape pomace are natural and human-made, glazing by the wax which completes the product, raw by the pattern, casual and irregular.
This studio doesn’t stop to surprise us: pushing forwards they created new colors from coffee and beer waste, combining them with new shapes. Presented at the Warsaw Home furniture fair, these organic objects are part of the collection Senilia. This lights collection lean in our domestic spaces like silent sentinels, soft, very different from the classical aesthetics of the pendant collection. The strength of the waste survives also in this more innovative forms, with the addiction of a light-bulb holder in ceramic – no metal or cotton, like in Highlight collection – making the objects fully recyclable. The productive process totally depends on extrusion, removing heath from the procedure. Therefore the environmental impact, also in this phase, is near to the zero.
The Highsociety finds a way to be useful not only to the design field, but also to society: the profit of each lamp is devolved to associations who fight against drug addiction in the Bolzano area. These two designers are showing us how an extremely simple material like bio-plastic – light, natural and malleable – can completely substitute other high impact and obsolete ones. Thinking about the new challenges we have to face in the present, this idea is useful not only for the design world but also for the environment and us.