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MARLENE HUISSOUD, recycling waste into new materials

Words by Lula Criado

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Recycling waste into new materials and products is one of the most favourable actions that we are willing to do in order to be more sustainable and protect the environment. Nevertheless, what if materials could be made using insects and their waste streams instead of recycling waste?

Marlene Huissoud is an experimental designer fascinated with the creativity of insects and nature itself who has created From Insects, a project that consists of a collection of artefacts made using honeybees and silkworms. Honey bees, propolis and silkworm define the creative universe of Marlene Huissoud. With her work she is both, promoting reflection and challenging the definition of environmental value.

Propolis —a black resinous mixture collected and used by honey bees to protect the hive— has been reported in biomedical literature as an antimicrobial and immune system stimulant substance.

However, Marlene Huissoud has found a new use for it. She has made from propolis a set of vessels using traditional techniques such as Venetian techniques. 

From silkworm cocoon, Marlene has shaped Wooden Leather: a new material made of hundred of layers of threads of raw silk and varnished with propolis to give it strength that can be used as a flexible surface or a piece of furniture.

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What do you most like and dislike about the period we live in?

I like the way how design is in this period because we can challenge our perception of materiality and illustrate a new vision in the making process.

I dislike the fact that it is difficult to pursue higher education in the UK and that everybody should have access to education.

What is your chief enemy of creativity?

Weather. I work a lot outside for the different pieces of the collection and winter is unfortunately coming very soon.

If you would have to give up one of your five senses, which one would it be and why?

Difficult question. I would say Smell. It is one of the senses that I use less in my work.

What is the worst piece of advice you have been given?

“Listen to me I know how everything works in design.”

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

Introvert. I love to collaborate but I love to be by myself in the studio, working on different designs especially when it is the stage of research because it is a stage of doubt and you can’t doubt in front of your audience. !

One for the ride… Who or what was the last person, place or thing that fascinated you?

My father. He inspired me a lot of courses for the project because he is a beekeeper, we worked a lot together recently and he discovered a lot of facette of him that I didn’t know. It has been a fantastic collaboration and it is only the beginning.

(All photos courtesy of the artist. From Insects Series)
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