We're more familiar with seaweed as an ingredient in sushi or maybe as an alternative fuel. In Denmark, however, seaweed has been used as an effective and durable insulation material, lasting as long as 150 years. Recent Danish design grads from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Jonas Edvard and Nikolaj Steenfatt, built on this tradition by creating sturdy, elegant furniture from dried and ground up seaweed.
According to Dezeen, the designers used fucus seaweed harvested from the Danish coast and ash wood to create their minimalist pieces. A common brown algae found on many coasts, fucus seaweed has alginate, a natural polymer that once dried, ground up and cooked to form a gluey substance, will produce a hard material after drying that mimics cork. The abundant amount of salt in the seaweed also helps to preserve the molded furniture and protect it from fire.
So how did the designers come up with this simple but useful concept, which they've dubbed the Terroir Project? Edvard explains:
The project began as an investigation into using local materials. In Denmark, there's a lot of coastline. Almost everywhere you go, the sea is visible and therefore a big part of the landscape.
The most surprising thing of all is that there are no other adhesive or additives in the furniture -- it's mostly seaweed, says Edvard:
As most people don't know the actual strength of the alginate, they often think we put some extra glue inside, but it is only seaweed and paper.
The Terroir pieces are lightweight, but strong, and surprisingly (and thankfully), don't smell like much. Due to the hefty amounts of nitrogen, iodine, magnesium and calcium in the seaweed, the furniture will biodegrade, or can be turned into fertilizer. It's quite an idea, that durable, sustainable furniture might also one day fertilize someone's garden. More over at Dezeen and Jonas Edvard and Nikolaj Steenfatt.