Why did you choose this material to work with?

During my travels in Indonesia, I realized that the sand of all the beaches I visited actually consists of dead corals. Due to the global warming, the coral die is an ongoing and rapid process. First of all, I wanted to create something which would draw the attention of that disaster in our world’s oceans. I needed to get to the beginning of that difficulty, which lays within our waste habits. I found out that corals and shells have similar material matrixes and regionally that 90% of that beautiful material is a waste product when eating oysters. Here I started off.

What is the main challenge in circular economy you were trying to solve with this material?

The main challenge is not to get the waste. Most of the restaurants were really cooperative. They collected the shells and stored them separately over the time of three to five days (all restaurants were cooperative except from one, which said on the telephone they would use all their oyster shells for their garden. Selling only oyster dishes they would make a ton of shells per month. I think you wouldn’t see the garden anymore…)
The challenge was laying more within the process of cleaning and grinding the shells. I cooperated with a local „Kollergang“ in Marzahn to grind the shells manually (picture attached). Here I also ground the other waste material I was working with: The ceramic fractures from broken tableware. In a small mistake during the process, I combined the materials when doing my first tries with the 3D printer. Afterward, the mixed material was much more stable than the printed oyster shell mixtures without the „Schamott“ from ceramic fractures.

Do you consider future development of the project, going to test the material?
Yes. I was starting with the new technique of 3D printing. I am still a newbie to that technique and I want to develop it further. But also the glazing which fascinated me the most in the process I will continue to do my research on. In comparison, I can reuse more of the waste material within the 3D-printing process.
How do you see the role of designer in the development of circular economy agenda?

A designer should realize what impact they can have by designing things for our world. And what they can change by thinking through the whole process and by not stop thinking when finishing of how something looks like. That is the superficial idea one will have what a designer does. But all designer should ask themselves: What happens with the product after its use out there? Where does it end up? Material heaven our landfill hell? Being a circular designer, you take over responsibility. Not all designer think circular and I want to raise attention and work within that philosophy for the rest of my career.

All images are provided by Thalea Schmalenberg