Designer's recycled salmon skin furniture highlights fish waste issue

Nienke Hoogvliet
© Nienke Hoogvliet

Overfishing is a huge issue, with an estimated three-quarters of global fish stocks that are now either collapsed, over-exploited, significantly depleted, or in some stage of recovery. Even worse is the fact that industrial fishing methods are enormously wasteful, resulting in shocking amounts of bycatch that is thrown back in the water. The U.S. alone dumps back two billion pounds of fish back in the water annually; while 26 pounds of marine animals are inadvertently caught and killed to produce one pound of shrimp.

A broken system like this takes time and effort on all fronts to correct, whether it's using technology or transforming it into an energy solution. Designers can find ways to transform the industry too, as Delft-based Nienke Hoogvliet has done with this series of furniture and accessories that reuse fish waste, as seen during Dutch Design Week. Though it may not solve the problem, it offers an idea of how to fully use available materials as we transition into more sustainable fishing practices.

Nienke Hoogvliet© Nienke Hoogvliet

Using a non-chemical and process based on traditional techniques, Hoogvliet created a stool and a rug using discarded salmon skins, sourced from fish shops. The skin is manually scaled, then oiled, and hung up to dry out. The result is a sturdy material that resembles leather, which can be stretched -- as Hoogvliet has done with the stool -- or cut into pieces and sewn (into a fishing net, no less) to create a rug.

Nienke Hoogvliet© Nienke Hoogvliet
Nienke Hoogvliet© Nienke Hoogvliet
Nienke Hoogvliet© Nienke Hoogvliet

In the "Re-sea Me" project, Hoogvliet's aim was to bring attention to how much fish waste is generated, and to encourage others to think of new ways to use this potentially quite beautiful material. While it won't solve the problems of unsustainable fisheries worldwide (we as consumers could help by making some informed choices to eat less fish or to go vegetarian altogether), this project does present some interesting reuse ideas for something that usually thrown away. More over at Designboom and Nienke Hoogvliet.

Tags: Accessories | Fish | Fishing | Furniture | Netherlands | Recycled Consumer Goods

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