I will never stop being amazed by how designers are pushing the boundaries by creating sustainable products. Nuclée is a lamp created from discarded banana flesh and it is….truly bananas! The French designer duo came up with the concept and produced it during a six-month residency at the National Taiwan Craft Research Institute (N.T.C.R.I.) in Taiwan.
The minimal lamp puts the sustainable material front and center with a bamboo circle around it to highlight it. Banana fibers from the plantations are usually considered as waste after the traditional extraction process and cast aside. However, the designers were intrigued by this. material and found it fascinating when working with a lighting design concept. After empirical research, they succeeded in stabilizing the plant tissue using a particular refining technique and after applying different pressure as well as heat parameters. This new material is highlighted by shapes of bent bamboo, inspired by the internal structure of the banana tree stem and that is how the form of Nuclée mood lights came to be.
“Settled near Hualien, on the east coast of Taiwan, the Kavalan aboriginal tribe is expert in the use of banana fiber: they make it their traditional clothing. I had the chance to meet them, to share their way of life, and to learn from their elders the ancestral techniques to use this plant. This new material is sublimated here in curved bamboo shapes, inspired by the banana tree structure,” said Dorian as he elaborated on the inception of his idea. The stabilizing process also gives it a color range from white to dark brown while enhancing the natural texture of the banana flesh.
After learning about these ingenious age-old methods of working with this plant, the designers used the process of extraction using only the outer part of the stem and other techniques to develop this modern sustainable lamp. Their experiments had them checking the material’s reaction to heat, cold, humidity, pressure, combination with other materials, and more to make sure it was actually usable in a wide variety of conditions. This also helps to break the notion that sustainable designs aren’t strong or long-lasting. Nuclée is also a project winner of the “Best of Year” Grand Prize (New York, 2020) and of the Green Product Award (Berlin, 2021).
Designers: Cordélia Faure & Dorian Etienne of ENSCI Les Ateliers