Coleoptera by Aagje Hoekstra is certainly not the last bio-based project at the Dutch Design Week, but is a very interesting one for sure. Aagje’s approach is aimed at an already industrially ‘used’ insect. In the Netherlands mealworms are bred for the animal food industry. The mealworm eventually becomes the mealworm beetle which dies three to four months after laying its eggs. As there’s no use for them anymore their bodies are thrown away. However the beetle’s armor contains the substance chitin which is eventually converted to chitosan. These ‘chitosan shields’ can be pressed on to each other to form a paper-thin material. We see quirky, though beautiful, looking artifacts as a result.
Are quirky artifacts the beginning of a large-scale transition from our plastic world to a hybrid of organisms? Will the industry continue where the arts halted, or are we still repulsed by the idea of fungi kitchen appliances and mealworm lamps? Perhaps next years DDW will tell.
This article was originally published on Next Nature Lab