Recently, we've seen how designers have been creating new kinds of biologically inspired products, from jewelry built by larvae, to countertop incubators that cultivate insects for human consumption, to dead beetle bioplastic. The bug-related possibilities seem endless (despite any knee-jerk reactions of disgust), and French-born and British-based designer Marlène Huissoud is yet another designer who is demonstrating that great products can be made in collaboration with these little critters.
I am interested in the viability of utilising insects and their waste streams to create future craft artefacts. Already science is exploring the potential of insects for food production and to satisfy our future dietary needs, however I am primarily interested in using insects as co-partners in the design process.
In her From Insects series, Huissoud uses small quantities of propolis, a resin that is gathered by honeybees from trees to seal their hives. Beekeepers have to remove a small amount from the hives each year as a way to maintain them, and this is what Huissoud re-uses in her collection -- a glistening black variety of propolis that comes from the resin of rubber trees.
Owing to the glass-like properties of propolis, Huissoud teamed up with glassblowers to experiment with various techniques to create these one-of-a-kind works that function and feel very much like glass.
Huissoud's other explorations involve the use of silkworm cocoons, which when cut, moistened and heated, become a sturdy, paper-like material that was varnished with a compound made out of propolis. The result is what Huissoud calls "wooden leather," which she transformed into a cabinet and lamp.
Huissoud believes that these experiments could have future applications in fashion, furniture-making and surface design, and would be a great way to re-use what is naturally harvested during the beekeeping and silkworm-keeping process. More over at Dezeen and Marlène Huissoud.