Before we understood or cared about environmental damage, industrial design could be called a noble profession. At its best it produced useful objects for the masses, and using mass production made those objects affordable while creating thousands of factory jobs.
With that system no longer sustainable, Paris-based industrial designer Jade Echard is providing the model for an alternative. Ostra, the project Echard developed last year while gaining her Masters in Industrial Design at Central St. Martins, is a holistic approach to product development that tackles environmental issues while also considering the supply chain and local economies.
"Around 430 billion tons of oysters are harvested each year," Echard writes. "Their shells represent more than 70% of their weight, resulting in tons of shell waste. Most of it is untreated or dumped in landfill where it rots, releasing methane (a greenhouse gas). At the same time, they contain one of the most valuable components used in many industries but usually mined: Calcium Carbonate.
"By exploring the potential for transformation of this organic waste - thanks to an ancient Roman recipe for Concrete - OSTRA aims to rethink oyster shells as a valuable, sustainable and local resource of biomaterial by developing a range of products in the context of a circular economy. In doing so, the project helps to reduce the pollution load to the environment while also reducing production and transport costs and displacing harmful or extracted materials.
"OSTRA is an alternative material and a system for critically engaging with a complete supply chain. The project involves local communities, creating a network of people (farmers, restauranteurs as material suppliers, scientists, designers, and so on) around waste oyster shells.
"I am currently developing the material in collaboration with Dr Michael Cattell, a specialist in dental technology and biomaterials at the Institute of Dentistry - Queen Mary University of London. From this research, I have developed a tableware range made from oyster shell material which can be used by the same restaurants from which the shells were originally sourced."
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Echard now has her Masters in hand and has returned to her homebase of Paris, where she's seeking an ID gig. Would-be employers can contact her here.
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