by Almas SadiqueJan 20, 2023
In the last decade or so, the term circular economy has been doing the rounds in the design community, some embracing it for clout, some out of curiosity, and some because of genuine concern for the planet. Milan-based startup, Krill Design, underscores their latest work, Ohmie The Orange Lamp, with the latter, claiming it to be the world's first lamp 3D printed from discarded orange peels. What’s more, the lamp even smells like delicate orange cookies when in use, to remind users that it is possible to enable good design from food waste, and is wholly compostable at the end of its life.
A successful exercise in sustainable design, Ohmie is made entirely of an orange biopolymer that is created from two to three Sicilian oranges (sourced locally), which are treated to obtain a very dry and fine powder. The powder is made in-house and is then sent to a compounding facility where it is added to a biopolymeric vegetable starch base, and is produced in a final form of pellets, the only step of the production that is outsourced because the machinery needed is expensive and hefty. These pellets are then sent back to the Krill Design facility where orange filament is then extruded from them. “Once we have the filament, we can use it in FDM (fused deposition modelling) 3D printers and give life to Ohmie,” relays the design team that includes product designers Sofia Soledad Duarte Poblete and Victoria Rodriguez Schön.
The base biopolymer guarantees that the lamp won't degrade with normal use, be long-lasting, and not break down with water exposure. This base is synthetised from the bacterial fermentation of palm waste and that is one reason why they chose it, besides it being exclusively engineered for 3D printing, being fully compostable and completely natural. The finished body is made from one continuous strand of the filament extruded through the 3D printer, ensuring a lightweight (both visually and in terms of weight) design that avoids excessive or any kind of waste during production. Ohmie also imbues the texture of an actual orange peel, while its colour is made brighter by adding natural, non-toxic food dyes.
"Ohmie is the first lamp of its kind, as its rich colour and texture transform orange peels into sleek, natural lines and surfaces that offer a distinct design, but also tell the story of its origin, evoking nature’s memories," shares the team at Krill Design, which is led by Ivan Calimani (CEO), Yack Humberto di Maio (R&D Manager), and Martina Lamperti (Design Director). “Another building block in the circular design movement, Ohmie The Orange Lamp is a revolutionary and innovative product that marks a clear step towards a future where reclaimed materials are the norm and the line between design and eco-design is erased,” they add.
Ohm (Ω - measurement of electrical resistance within an electric circuit) and Home, where the design took birth form the genesis of the lamp’s name. The Krill Design team, working remotely during the coronavirus pandemic last year, began thinking about a cosy, useful object that would keep them company and brighten up their homes. “In addition, we decided to actually design a lamp as our first consumer product, because for us, it symbolises everything our work and designs stand for: something useful, beautiful, evocative and most of all, meaningful,” shares the team.
Oranges were opted because their peels are good raw material to begin with – they are rich in carbohydrates and they bond well with the base biopolymer, resulting in a sturdy raw material. They are also in good supply in Italy – Sicily alone produces three per cent of the world’s supply of oranges, and they would therefore, never run out of peels. The locally sourced citrus fruit is also a renowned Italian product and “since we have a 100 per cent Made in Italy supply and production chain, we liked the fact that the raw material was symbolic of this,” the Italian designers share.
At 23 cm tall, one Ohmie Lamp comes with a USB-connected power cord, a dimmer switch, and a removable LED bulb. It can potentially last forever, endure time and lifelong usages, although it cannot stand particularly humid environments. At the end of its life, an Ohmie can be recycled fully, its cable removed and discarded with electronic waste, its body broken into fragments and disposed off with other household, organic waste to be composted in an industrial facility. The team is researching ways in which the product can decompose directly in nature in the coming years. Now compare this to all the objects that surround you – from your phone charger to the switch board, all that non-recyclable plastic that either sit in landfills for years on end or end up as microplastics in our food…
Krill Design is driven by their mission to support people and organisations that embrace sustainability, practising, researching, and showing a different side of it through circular design themselves. “We all are driven by a profound desire to innovate and bring a breath of fresh air (or a revolution) within the design world, presenting our products as an example of high-quality, yet sustainable objects, because they don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” says Krill Design. For the same reason, all their creations are inspired by nature: Ohmie’s texture and colour are reminiscent of orange skins, the very material they are made from, bringing forth the story of its origin. “An intrinsic lightness, both visual and practical, is another pillar of our products, as they embody a minimal carbon footprint - it is crucial for us to represent their organic quality in aesthetic as well as its actual weight,” they add.
The Milanese startup is also working on a range of furniture design made from coffee-based biomaterial, as well as expanding the Ohmie Lamp as a citrus-based product line, researching on biopolymers made from lemons, limes and more. “Ohmie is much more than a product: it is the symbol of a much-needed renewal that brings greater synergy with nature into everyone's lives, without having to compromise on aesthetics or quality. With Ohmie you decide what the future will be,” they conclude.