Biomimicry for a better world
Words by Martina Saladino
Swedish duo Hanna Billqvist and Anna Glansén are the minds behind Tomorrow Machine, a design studio based in Stockholm and Paris, crafting innovative and rule-breaking goodies. They focus on food packaging concept and design: from a rice box that you peel like a fruit to a self-expanding bowl that grows with hot water – all environmentally friendly. Using materials that are both smart and natural, Tomorrow Machine breaks down the standards of sustainable packages we are used to, creating products of tomorrow today.
The collaboration between Anna and Hanna started at their early educational stages, “we discovered our common interest in new technology and packaging while studying product design at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm”, they explain. Soon, they opened a studio in Stockholm and called themselves ‘Tomorrow Machine’; “we wanted a name that reflected our passion for new technology and the future”.
The name itself made me think about a futuristic intelligence built to revolutionize our present practices. Indeed, their vision aims “to build a better world through research, new technologies and intelligent material. We believe in looking at science from a creative point of view to shape the innovations of tomorrow”.
Inspired by biomimicry, which is a discipline that looks and emulates the Nature to seek sustainable solutions, they make beautiful, quirky, but also functional objects. See the self-destructive smoothie package that shrinks by its content going down, decreasing the waste. The concept behind it is that the container and the content have the same lifetime by fading together.
Their driving force stays in the innovation; “the first thing we do when we start a new project is to ask ourselves what the product would be like in a perfect world, and then we create a product based on the image of that ‘perfect world product’,” they comment.
Colourful and engaging, the products are made by natural resources like beeswax, water, sugar, agar-agar gel, seaweed and other forest-based renewable materials. When asked which is their favourite bio-based material, they say “we like them all, but if we must choose one, it has to be cellulose. Cellulose it’s amazing and so versatile: depending on how you treat it, it can get different properties and can act like paper, plastic or ceramics. ”
Indeed, in collaboration with Innventia, they created a self-cleaning plate and cup made from cellulose that rejects the dirt due to its superhydrophobic coating. Like the lotus leaves’ reaction to liquids, the biodegradable crockeries repel water and dirt in a way that we won’t need to think about washing up ever again. In addition, the dishes cannot break as cellulose is an extremely steady material. How cool!
To emulate Nature is a challenge, but also a deep revelation. It’s where the knowledge of scientists and the creativity of designers meet that we have the chance to seek for a better world. Tomorrow Machine is definitely on the right path.