In this era of recycle, reuse, reduce, the trend in personal goods has obviously been to prevent as much of it as possible from ending up in a landfill. What was once garbage is now the source material for electric appliances, bicycles and even play structures.
And while that concept isn’t new, using actual dirt and molding it into the shape of furniture is certainly new. Or, it’s so old it’s new to us.
Terra is a company that uses ancient techniques to fashion compost—made up of 100 percent organic materials like soil, manure and plant matter—into cool modern furniture.
Israeli designer Adital Ela is a self-described “designer-gatherer” and the creator of Terra’s biomaterial furniture line. After a lengthy research project, Ela blended ancient practices from places like Palestine and Iraq with a few modern production techniques to come up with her unique mixing formula—some of which does involve foot-stomping.
All of Terra’s pieces are made using zero energy and can be replicated anywhere organic waste is available. They’re also fully renewable and biodegradable: The stools, cups and the rest of the line’s pieces can all be smashed and returned to the Earth once they’ve outlived their use.
As she explains in her TED talk, Ela first became enamored with the idea in India, when she was served a cup of chai in a sun-dried, clay mug. “I was absolutely fascinated by the way the locals gulped down this delicious boiling drink, tossing the cups into the ground…The cups, made of clay, dried by the sun, touched the Earth, and blended with it and within minutes, they disappeared,” she said. “Seeing this…I started asking myself, ‘How can products, like people, come from dust, and to dust return?’ ”
But Terra is only one in a portfolio of Ela’s many sustainable green designs. She’s the founder and director of S-Sense, an Israeli firm that’s also created artful residential rainwater collectors, wind-powered garden lights, and colorful textiles made from secondhand clothes.
While the furniture might be seen by some as more of a novelty, Ela’s entire body of work is the sign of a person dedicated to using her business in a way that positively impacts the world around her.
Would you buy stools made from compost? Let us know what you think of Terra in the Comments.