A New Delhi Design Practice Repurposing Feathers, Egg Shells, Tree Husks & More

A New Delhi Design Practice Repurposing Feathers, Egg Shells, Tree Husks & More

With the acceleration of climate change-related disasters and the unaccountability of governments around the world, there hasn’t been a more urgent time than now to develop technologies and alternative methods of consumption that are sustainable.

At the forefront of this movement is New-Delhi based design and research practice YLEM which is “Committed to promoting the role of materials in relationship with sustainable development, design, science and human behaviours.”

Working in the space of material research, food waste-based design and contemporary craft, their circular venture is driven by scientific processes and an underlying theme of green design. With their model, they wish to devise competitive products that have sustainable life cycles and value chains.

Founded by the young designer Midushi Kochhar who is a firm believer in ‘glocal’ which is an ideology that reflects both global and local considerations.

Their innovations include eggware which is the practice of using eggshells to make ceramic products, using tree husks for making footwear, Plumeware which is using feathers as bioplastics which is a biodegradable alternative to plastic and bamboo as a green alternative to other woody raw materials among other such innovations.

In their own words, “Driven by the mindset of materials first, our methodology aims at redirecting and rebuilding symbiotic and bio-benign connections for experimental yet realistic material cultures.”

To understand what they do a little better, we had a conversation with Midushi.

Firstly, can you tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to start this venture?

Trained as an industrial designer from Central St. Martins, University of the Arts London, my design and making methodology aims at redirecting and rebuilding symbiotic connections for experimental yet realistic material cultures.

My educational background encourages me to solve problems and create appealing products but it contradicts with my mindset of consuming less. Therefore, I try to find the right balance to the conflicting challenges of achieving elegant aesthetics, production capabilities, easy usability and environmental impacts. To tackle these oppositions, I started YLEM in India and Makers on the Move, The Netherlands to promote the role of materials in relationship with social development, design, science, education and human behaviours.

At the core of your work are sustainability, climate change and innovating alternatives using materials, can you expand a little on why you think now is an important time for developing such innovative designs?

“Now” is already behind schedule. Virgin materials are expensive and difficult to source and renewables/residual materials are cheap and easily available. With the right innovation and support from the governments, these materials not only have a greener impact potential but it also makes good business sense to identify this valuable ‘waste’ and instead of mining for new resources, utilise the discards up to their maximum capabilities.

As a generation eco-anxiety is something that grips all of us, is it something that affects you too and if yes, how do you cope with it?

Yes it does! It used to bother me even more but I had to rewire myself to cope with it. I had started feeling guilty about almost every purchase I was making. Sometimes you do need to buy a plastic water bottle and sometimes you really want to get that cute outfit from a not-so-sustainable brand- and consuming less is not a sign of a growing, sustainable economy. I realised that restraining and blaming myself for my wants/needs is also unhealthy. Anyone else facing these problems can consume and act on easily workable solutions that can be integrated into their current lifestyle gradually, without disruptions, without anxiety.

Lastly, can you tell us a little about what YLEM means to you and what you believe is the future of sustainable development?

YLEM, our new circular studio, is driven by an underlying theme of green design to devise ideas, objects and spaces with sustainable life cycles and value chains. Hence, we create our own novel materials and apply them for various bespoke and/or scalable purposes, using scientific processes.

By harnessing agricultural recycling, one material at a time, we want to establish responsible hyper-local systems and refashion waste into new objects that effuse wonder and surprise to draw people’s attention and pose questions on our current ways of consumption. We don’t want to scare and preach but subtly let our audience understand the implications of their lifestyle and make changes that they are comfortable with.

A quote I swear by is “Waste is a design flaw.”- Kate Krebbs

To know more about them, check them out here.

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