how to work with scoby?;



„Most commodities live longer than their creators and consumers alike-for even a simple plastic bag will outlive us all many times over. [...] Therefore, as all objects that enter into this world are commodities, we must realize that this is not our world, but theirs.“ *


vision & reality?

/ A nylon fabric takes up to 40 years. A rubber boot sole up to 80 years & polyester fabric up to 200 years. None of them are biodegradable. During this time they break down into tiny particles of their materiality. **

The increasing number of lifetime-graphics with mostly hypothetical values, ​​symbolize a growing awareness among the consumer nations, that commodities made from materials of the technosphere (e.g. plastics) are already a serious threat to our world, which is at the limit of reproduction and capacity.

Recycling as an all-round solution should counteract this problem.


But only a minor percentage of plastics is regenerated by recycling companies (less than 10% worldwide ***). Furthermore, there is no guarantee that consumed goods will ultimately be added to the recycling cycle by the consumer.

We face a man-made problem where the man-made solution fails.

[* S.25,Neomaterialism,2013; Joshua Simon]


how to work with scoby!

/ In this project, a more radical different design-approach is explored in order to counteract the problem of durable & environmentally-harmful commodities. The basis for this is the equally radical scenario that the consumer dumps the commodity directly (willfully or unintentionally) into the biosphere.


In response to this scenario, a series of integrally designed objects is being developed, which combine several sustainable design strategies, all together with the goal of 100% biodegradability in top of priority.

The start of each object-concept is the use of a natural & locally produced material called 'Scoby', which use brings a lot of benefits in all strategic points.

Integrated into this project a multi-part guide will be created, with the goal to encourage people to work with sustainable design processes. The content of the guide will include the explanation of each strategy & its exemplary implementation visualized throw the manufacturing of the object series.




/ The series of objects includes 9 accessories, whose integrally designed processes contain various sustainable strategies from the production of the material to the tested application.


design strategy

/ The development of an integral design concept was the core of the design strategy.

An integral design considers every point of the product. From its materiality and manufacture to its use and disposal.


The method for this strategy was to choose the most effective and sustainable concept points by comparing the possibilities.


The chosen technique was the creation of a decision-tree that explains the possible decisions in detail through questions and answers.


The starting point for this decision-tree was the goal of designing 100% biodegradable objects, which was selected through the previous research and the created scenario, as well as the previous specialization on bacterial cellulose as the main material.


material strategies part 1:


/ Scoby is the short form for = symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast.The symbiosis is formed by the bacterium >acetobater xylinum< and varying yeast cultures. This symbiosis is based on the benefits of  bacteria & yeast to be usefull for each other and convert the substances, which are present in the nutrient medium. They protect each other e.g. against sunlight or keep other microorganisms away through the acidic environment.


historically and today, Scoby is used as a ferment in different regions of the world. A classic example of its use as a ferment is in the 

production of ‚Kombucha‘ (from the Japanese KOMBU- alga; CHA - tea) a fermented tea.


The >Acetobater xylnium< is a gram-negative bacterium which 

produces cellulose for its own protection against e.g. UV radiation. This is created by the bacteria in a 3D nano-structure in layers, creating a sponge-like cross-sectional structure. Furthermore, gram-negative bacteria produce toxins when they die, which can react with the human immune system.


preparing strategy

/ The preparing strategy connects the improvement of material properties & the creation of an eco-friendly material production.


The method is to compensate material deficits such as smell, cornification or hydrophilicity without endangering the biodegradability of the material and to work out a conscious handling of water consumption and additives.


manufacturing strategies part 1:

zero waste

/ The first part of the manufacturing strategies, describe the use of the zero-waste strategy in 3 parts of the process.


The meaning of the Zero-waste strategy defined a cooperation between material and design in the manufacturing process with the goal of avoiding and recycling production waste.


In the methodical implementation of this strategy, material-specific properties such as the adjustable growth size and the cornification of bacterial cellulose are used.




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