Innovating new material from Kulla Design Studio: 50% sawdust

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"Paper or plastic?" I was constantly asking way back in 1985, when I was working as a bagboy in an Alpha Beta grocery store. I worked there during the year the now ubiquitous plastic bags were introduced and people would usually tell me "Both.".

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They wanted the strength of the brown paper bag and the handles of the plastic one, so there I was, day after day, putting them in, all the way right up to the day that the brown paper bag was completely phased out. That was also the day I quit, after realising these plastic bags were going to be an ecological catastrophe.

Fast forward a couple decades, and a bright light appears, this one again combining wood pulp and plastic bags. It’s called ‘50% sawdust’ and is the invention of Israeli-based Kulla Design Studio who came up with it when developing a new design method, during the material research phase, when two different worlds of waste: wooden sawdust and plastic bags were combined in a very innovative way.

Born of their desire to find new uses for the common waste products sawdust and plastic bags, by combining the two materials they have found an interesting new aesthetic quality with an almost unlimited range of applications. As you can see in these images (courtesy of Kulla Design Studio), they have created a method to fuse together plastic shreds with post-industrial wooden sawdust to create a new material, all without the need of any chemical adhesives.

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This process to create ‘50% sawdust’ involved making a mixture consisting of equal parts shredded plastic mixed with wood sawdust, and pressure forming it in an aluminum mold, and then baking it, where the high temperatures melt the plastic to act as a resin that holds the materials together. What you end up with is strong, structurally sound material, with an interesting new aesthetic, giving new life to materials which would otherwise end up in landfills or worse, the environment.

Watch now as Kulla Design Studio fashions there new ‘afterlife’ material into a hip and cool stool.

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‘50% sawdust’ stool

‘50% sawdust’ stool disassembled and ready for sale

top view

final detail

turtle eating plastic bag