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MaDe Finalist
Name

Malu Lücking

Material
Nettle-weed
Nationality
German
Classification
Vegetable
Workshop
Barcelona
Category
Industry
Profile

In July 2019 she successfully graduated from the art school Berlin- Weissensee with a Bachelor’s Degree in Textile and Surface Design. In the last years of her studies she turned away from purley aesthetic design and confronted herself with enviornmental and socioecological questions. Since then I am specialised in experimental material research at the intersection of design, biology and activism. I see my role as a designer in developing responsible and sustainable material solutions so that the planet the people and their products can coexist in the future. 

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Project Information
Material Qualities
Material 1:
Color: White/ Beige
Soft / hard: Composite soft-hard
Shiny / mate: Mate
Smells: Cowshed
Texture: Smooth on one side, rough on the other

Material 2:
Color: Changes between Pink, Purple and Blue
Soft / hard: Soft
Shiny / mate: Shiny
Smells: Red cabbage
Texture: Smooth with small grains
Material Recipe
Material 1:
Soft material
- The fine burning hairs have to be removed from the stem.
- The stems must be laid out on grass for 2 weeks to start the rotting process.
- The stems must then be dried.
- Then squeezed them flat until they split.
- Finally, the fine fibres have to be extracted from the hard wood.
- To create a robust and still soft surface from the fibres, they are felted with a needle.

Shell material
- The hard part of the stems are shredded in a grinder.
- Gelatine, glycerin and water get heated up on the stove and mixed with the stem powder.
- Finally the mass is filled into a mould for drying.
- The felted wool has to added on top and while the paste is still not fully dried.

Or shell material:
- The hard part of the stems are shredded in a grinder and mixed with water.
- In the next step the pasted gets pressed into a form.
- For speeding up the process, heat can be applied.

Material 2: Pre-preparation:
- The outer, unusable leaves are soaked in distilled water for 1 to 2 days (to remove the dye).
- Afterwards, the outer leaves must be dried either on air or in the oven.
- The dried leaves must get grinded then.

Material cooking:
- Alginate and the red cabbage water from the first step are cooked together at low level on the stove.
- Glycerin and grinded red cabbage pigment is added.

Form: foil-packaging:
-The liquid mass can be poured into a flat mould to produce a foil like film.

Or form: fruit-net
-In order to create a non-woven from the warm mass, the alginate-based mass is added to a syringe and injected to the mould.
Material Application
Material 1: The composite material can mainly be used as packaging material for fragile goods. the hard shell protects the contents and the wise fibres function like an upholstery film, a packaging for eggs, for example, would be conceivable. Another conceivable application would be as a sponge or mop. A chair made of the monomaterial 'burning nettle' would also be conceivable, the fibres as a seat cushion, the processed stems as the rest of the construct. similar to linoleum, the material could also function as a flooring material.

Material 2: It can function as a ph value sensor for various food packages that signal how fresh they are by changing the ph value. A packaging of milk and cheese products would be conceivable. As a non-woven it can be used as a fruit net for apples, for example. I can use it as a fermentation indicator, as a water quality index or as a material for umbrellas to indicate how acidic the rain is.
Material Narrative
Material 1: The stinging nettle is back in trend because of its healthy nutrients. With a return to local superfoods, nettle leaves are harvested from public areas in Germany and processed into tea, salad or oil. While the leaves are used as food, the long stems remain as organic waste. The stalk of the nettle is hard, similar to grain stalks, but hides fine fibres inside. As a new material, a composite from the extracted fibres and their hard shell is created. The fibres can be used as an inner filling material while the stems are processed into a hard shell material.
The organic waste from nettle harvesting, the stalk and its inner part, is processed into a new composite material that can replace conventional plastic-based packaging materials. The material can be
melted down and reshaped any number of times and biodegraded at the end of its use.

Material 2: Like no other, cabbage stands for German food culture. 438,78 million kilograms of red cabbage are consumed in Germany per year. The outer leaves of the cabbage are removed before consumption. Red cabbage contains a pigment which reacts to the PH-value. Many foods change their PH-value when they
are spoiled, one example is milk. The waste of red cabbage can be used to create a food packaging that indicates whether the food is bad or edible no matter what the ‘best-before day’ tells. This type of packaging can prevent the disposal of food and minimize food waste.

Recycling red cabbage minimises food waste in two ways: It gives the red cabbage waste itself a new function, secondly, the red cabbage pigment as a ph indicator helps to save other food from wasting. The packaging material itself is biodegradable and can be composted after use.

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MaDe, a project co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of The European Union, aims at boosting talents towards circular economies across Europe partnering with design and cultural institutions, Elisava, Ma-tt-er and Politecnico di Milano. If you are living in Italy, the UK or Spain please apply to the MaDe workshops in the relevant cities.

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