Summing up yök Casa + Cultura with upcycled cardboard furniture, VOC-free paint and sustainable tourism

The MOByök. Laser cut reclaimed cardboard, locally made.
via yök's Instagram

Here is one last article about my current business venture in Barcelona. After having written about the VOC-free drywalls, tips on energy saving, the PVC-free piping, our reclaimed bathroom sinks, the natural wood fibre wall insulation, bathrooms and kitchens, beds, our office, and some of our furniture, I would like to mention a few more materials and actions we have taken at yök Casa + Cultura in Spain. Recyclability was always a key factor in choosing the materials, as well as proximity.


The MOByök is a multifunctional piece specially designed for our hotel rooms. You can use it as a stool, table base, foot rest etc. but mainly it is meant to raise your suitcase to a comfortable height while living out of it. Together with designer Marcello Cannarsa we designed it, and fabricated it at the FabCafe inside the MOB co-working space around the corner from yök. Marcello collected used cardboard boxes from businesses in the area, laser cut them and then assembled them using only a belt. By avoiding adding other materials such as glue, we made sure the whole thing can still be recycled after its (second) use.


It wasn’t easy finding VOC-free paints that were also within our budget and worked well. Sometimes with eco-paint you have to add more layers and it still doesn’t cover the wall perfectly. We managed to get VOC-free white walls thanks to CapaSilan by Caparol, whose VOC content is < 1 g/l. A few walls (like the one in the photo below) had a beautiful textured colour so we managed to preserve them as they were by sealing the pores with a natural latex.

Good tourism

Our buisness plan, using the Business Model Generation's Canvas© yök Casa + Cultura's business plan using the Business Model Generation canvas

Last but not least, especially in a city affected by mass (bad) tourism and high air pollution, at yök we are challenged to come up with a sustainable way to do business without sacrificing the experience of our guests, both visitors and locals. The 3 Ps (People, Planet & Profit) are our guideline. We are by no means perfect, but we hope to set an example and a platform for better tourism in our city. Nothing sums it up better than our Manifesto:

1. Reflect the real Barcelona at all times: that of its locals and never that of tourist guides. Do not practise mass tourism, foster elegant tourism.
2. Be a social hub where visitors meet locals and unusual things happen. This is a place to be, not a place to stay the night.
3. Invite guests to bring and share their culture because everyone is a local somewhere.
4. Think Slow. Co-create experiences by actively involving like-minded, independent, local brands in the business. yök cannot happen anywhere else but in Barcelona.
5. Be transparent and truly sustainable. Drastically reduce the ecological footprint of the activity through eco-innovation and sustainable design thinking.
6. Be more than an eco-project. Use embedded sustainability without sacrificing lifestyle. Do not preach, inspire.
7. Be good for People, the Planet and Profit. Create a successful business that makes the world a little bit nicer for everyone.
8. Size matters. Stay flexible and keep it personal. Guests should not feel like a room number but feel like staying at somebody’s very special house.
9. Apply good design (useful, beautiful, fun, detailed, eco-friendly, functional, affordable, long-lasting, honest, local) to everything: interiors, business model, service, activities, and shop.
10. Be social, online and offline. Be connected to guests, locals, the city, modern culture, tradition and nature.

I would like to thank Treehugger and especially Lloyd Alter for the opportunity to document our eco-renovation here over the last 8 months since the first article and photos of the space before renovating in february. I received many encouraging emails, more questions and interesting comments from readers around the world. Please do not hesitate to contact me with any thoughts or to stay with us when you are in Barcelona next time.

Summing up yök Casa + Cultura with upcycled cardboard furniture, VOC-free paint and sustainable tourism
This is my last post about my current eco-venture in Barcelona: yök Casa + Cultura. We believe that good tourism is possible thanks to common sense, eco-design and working for People, Planet and Profit.

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