Blast Studio is our latest Circularity Champion. They are a team with a big ambition: to create urban ecosystems, in which waste is transformed into beautiful sustainable objects using living organisms. They shared their ethos and ambitions:
How did you meet and how did Blast Studio begin?
We all met during our architecture studies at the Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris. After graduating and while working in architecture studios, we started experimenting with mycelium 3D printing. We started in our kitchen by trying various substrates of mycelium and by hacking a standard 3D printer to make our first pieces.
What is mycelium?
Mycelium is the root network of fungi, it is composed of thin white filaments that decompose organic matter to grow. In forests, mycelium is a natural recycler that will feed off dead trunks or dead leaves.
How do you turn coffee cups and mycelium into such cool products?
We use the natural capacity of mycelium to degrade organic waste to make it recycle coffee cups! We collect these coffee cups from coffee shops all around London. We shred and sterilize the cups to create a material. Once printed the mycelium will feed off the material, grow and cover it with its roots . This means that waste becomes a fertile material, which nature can help us grow into pieces of art and furniture!
What made you passionate about tackling waste?
When looking at nature, you see that waste doesn’t exist. In forests the waste of an organism becomes the resource of another one; it’s a perfect cycle. We are passionate about trying to make such ecosystems in the city and to start seeing waste as a resource that we can transform into something beautiful. Instead of continuing to extract and work with raw materials, we want to look at waste as a local material for cities to build themselves from.
What types of ‘trash’ can you turn into products? Is it just coffee cups?
We can turn any cardboard based waste into products. We got interested in coffee cups because they are a huge environmental problem. Only 1 in 400 cups is recycled; the UK produces around 30,000 tonnes of waste coffee cups every day! We are also starting to collect cardboard based food packaging contaminated with food.
If you could hire anyone in the world to join Blast Studio who would it be?
Nicolas Hulot (French journalist and environmental activist)
What’s the limit? Are we talking just stools and tables or skyscrapers and cities?
No limit! We are doing furniture today but we really believe that this material has exceptional characteristics that could be used in architecture: it is lightweight and very strong. Our dream is to make cities entirely from their residents’ waste. Our furniture pieces are prototypes for full-scale architectural projects.
When are you happiest?
We are the happiest when we see people excited to see how their waste can be transformed using nature and when they want to take part in the project by giving us their waste. It’s very satisfying to see people excited about recycling.