How These Italian Designers Turn Fruit Peels Into Furniture

By Maria Bregman

Furniture made from fruit peels may sound like a fantasy, but for a group of Italian designers, it is a reality. Krill, a collective of young creatives based in Milan, has developed a technique to transform organic waste into biodegradable and compostable materials that can be used to create stools, lamps, and other objects.

Krill’s process, called “bio-molding”, involves collecting fruit peels from local sources, such as juice factories, markets, and restaurants, and mixing them with natural additives, such as starch, vinegar, and glycerin. The mixture is then poured into molds and left to dry for a few days, resulting in a flexible and resistant material that can be cut, sewn, or glued.

The color, texture, and smell of the material vary depending on the type and quantity of fruit peels used. For example, orange peels produce a bright orange material with a citrus scent, while banana peels create a darker and softer material with a sweet aroma. Krill experiments with different combinations of peels to achieve different effects and aesthetics.

Krill’s furniture is not only beautiful, but also sustainable and ethical. By using fruit peels, Krill reduces the amount of organic waste that ends up in landfills, where it emits greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 1.3 billion tons of food are wasted every year, representing a third of the food produced for human consumption.

Krill also promotes the concept of circular economy, which aims to eliminate waste and pollution by keeping materials in use for as long as possible. Krill’s furniture can be easily repaired, reused, or recycled, as it is made from natural and biodegradable materials. Moreover, Krill’s furniture can be composted at the end of its life cycle, returning nutrients to the soil and closing the loop.

Krill’s approach also empowers local communities to produce their own furniture from the resources available in their environment. Krill collaborates with different actors, such as farmers, artisans, and students, to share their knowledge and skills, and to co-create solutions that meet their needs and preferences. Krill believes that design can be a tool for social innovation and inclusion, as well as for environmental conservation.

Krill has done several projects that showcase their vision and values. One of them is a collaboration with a Sicilian orange juice factory, where Krill collected the peels from the production process and turned them into stools and lamps for the factory’s cafeteria. Another project is a workshop with a school in Milan, where Krill taught the students how to make their own furniture from fruit peels, and how to use design as a way to express themselves and to address global issues. A third project is a pop-up store in London, where Krill displayed and sold their furniture, and invited the public to participate in a bio-molding session.

Krill’s furniture is not only a product, but also a story. A story of how waste can be transformed into value, how nature can inspire innovation, and how design can create positive change. Krill’s furniture is a testament to the power and potential of fruit peels.