Seashells are having a moment


In London, design publication dezeen is highlighting the potential of seashells as starting material for everything from construction to crockery.

The shells of sea creatures like lobsters and scallops are comprised mostly of calcium carbonate, which is similar to limestone. Designers looking to incorporate sustainability into their products and repurpose seafood industry waste are leading efforts to harness the largely untapped resource.

One such application—crockery manufactured by Natural Material Studio and dubbed Shellware—is already being used at Denmark’s Noma, which is considered the best restaurant in the world by the famed Michelin guide.

In South Korea, design studio Newtab-22 is grinding surplus shells to form binders for a cement-like material, and Vietnamese designer Uyen Tran is using seafood shell waste and coffee grounds to create the leather alternative TômTex. “Tômtex can replicate any textural surface, so there are endless possibilities for pattern design, “Tran tells dezeen.

In Sweden, Carolina Härdh has designed a table made from oyster shells, rice starch, and fish bones, and London’s Shellworks is converting lobster shells and vinegar into bioplastic. Additional projects include a Bio-concrete from Japanese knotweed and American signal crayfish shells; crockery made from a UK restaurant’s own food waste; and protective headgear for fishermen made from waste scallop shells.