Menu Menu

Barbara Gollackner transforms food waste into design homeware

Viennese designer Barbara Gollackner has created a collection of abstract homeware items made from industrial and personal food waste.

Ever considered that your food waste bin could be a treasure trove for abstract design materials… no? Fair enough.

As part of an emerging and quirky artistic category, revered artist and sculptor Barbara Gollackner has developed a method of creating original homeware items from leftover food once destined to end up in landfill.

Teaming up with Astrian chef and restaurant owner Martina Kilga, she created a series of bowls, plates, and cutlery made entirely from excess grub and the ensemble is on display at Vienna Design Week.

Aptly dubbed ‘Wasteware,’ all pieces are largely comprised of pork skin and old bread from both industrial and personal waste systems. Feeling peckish yet?

Credit: Barbara Gollackner

Depending on the type of food, her ‘ingredients’ are either dried out or cooked before being blended into a smooth, malleable paste.

From here, the mixture is combined with mycelium – the vegetative fungi network which bonds mushrooms – and breadcrumbs to create more of an organic cement than a smoothie.

With the help of chef and food designer Peter Konig, the lot is then poured into a 3D printer where it transforms into specific shapes outlined by the creative vision of Gollackner.

‘The designs had to be super simple shapes – we are just in the middle of the process and we are still experimenting with the right consistency of the printing paste – the designs cannot have any super complicated shapes, it wouldn’t be possible to print,’ she explained.

Credit: Barbara Gollackner

Partly constricted by the technology, Gollackner decided to go for a minimalist approach creating cairn like structures, aubergine coloured teaspoons, moss green cups, and beige bowls which she claims can be used multiple times – so long as we promise not to throw food away, of course.

‘One way we use the waste that we produce ourselves, on the other side we use industrial food waste, like pork skin,’ she said.

‘There are huge amounts of pork skin thrown in Austria by the meat industry.’

For Gollackner, the Wasteware collection is more about the overall message than the complexity of the designs. Close to 90 million tons of food is thrown away across Europe every year, and she wanted to demonstrate that there are numerous alternatives to simply filling our landfills.

Credit: Barbara Gollackner

Thankfully, fellow designers have also cottoned on to the concept in recent years, with Alice Potts combining food waste and flowers to create bioplastic Covid-19 face shields.

Elsewhere, Dutch technology graduate Elzelinde van Doleweerd created intricate 3D-printed snacks from leftover food. We can confirm, no pork skin.

Next time your eyes are bigger than your belly, or you misjudge a pasta serving, do your own part by donating food to local foodbanks or making use of sustainable apps like Too Good To Go.

Beyond that, maybe get creative and contribute to an exciting new field of design.