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Top Two Lifestyle Movements Influencing Design in 2020:

Buy It for Life and Biomaterials are the major lifestyle movements setting the direction of design in home and fashion as consumers rethink what they buy, what its made of, and how long they hold on to it. 

Buy It for Life Movement:

Armchair furniture sketch plan draft
Armchair furniture sketch plan draft

I recently read about the Buy It for Life Movement resonating with Millennials who are willing to pay more for products that come from socially responsible and sustainable companies. As we enter the new decade, consumers are taking more responsibility for the life cycle of the products they own.

Hands of tailor sewing clothes

Consumer consumption habits are moving away from fast fashion that is cheap and disposable to better quality, longer-lasting items that do less harm to the environment. The Buy It For Life Movement encourages repurposing, refurbishing, and recycling products to give them new life.  

Carpenter Working in Traditional Woodworking Shop
Portrait of strong bearded carpenter shaving piece of wood with plane tool in workshop making furniture, copy space

A recent report by Nielsen, says 66% of Millennials say they’re willing to pay more for products and services that come from companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.

BioMaterials: The Next Generation of Sustainable Design

The new decade also brings to the forefront formerly fringe ideas about sustainable materials as innovators work with nature to grow materials and develop technologies for new applications in design.

Biomaterials is the next generation of sustainable design.  The 2019 London Design Festival showcased the work of pioneering designers working with Biomaterials its annual Material of the Year exhibition.  

Mexican designer Fernando Laposse makes a new veneer material from the colorful husks of Mexican heirloom corn species. The product is known as Totomoxtle, a marquetry material.

Mexican designer Fernando Laposse, creator of Totomoxtle. Photo Credit: London Design Festival

Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven in the Netherlands is a product design studio that invents new materials including PalmLeather created from the areca palm tree, found throughout southern India and other regions.

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PalmLeather. Photo Credit: Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Palmleather is made by dipping the dry and brittle leave from the Arecae Betel Nut into a biological softening solution that makes the material permanently soft and flexible.

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PalmLeather. Photo Credit: Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven invented PalmLeather as an alternative to leather that can be processed on conventional machines.

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PalmLeather. Photo Credit: Studio Tjeerd Veenhoven

Chip[s] Board is an innovative biomaterial company that turns food waste into high-value circular economy material and has created several products out of potato waste including Parblex™ Plastics. The material is a translucent pure or fiber-reinforced bioplastics that can be used in fashion and interior design. 

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Potatoe Waste by CHIP[S] BOARD. Photo Credit: London Design Festival
High Society an Italian company makes plant-based lighting from post-industrial waste. The waste includes hemp leftovers, pomace, the pulpy residue that remains after wine production, and the discarded leaves and stalks from tobacco cultivation. 

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Light fixtures made of HEMP, TOBACCO & POMACE By High Society. Photo Credit: London Design Festival

Biomaterials derived from food waste include The Förändring Collection by Ikea, a range of interior accessories made from the discarded straw from rice production. Cooking New Material from Germany-based designer Youyang Song uses banana, orange peels, soya milk and other food wastes to create sophisticated translucent materials that behave like vinyl.

In fashion, Algiknit is a biomaterials company that creates highly durable and degradable yarns derived from a seaweed called kelp. The company aims to address the ecological damage caused by the fashion industry with the next generation of sustainable, wearable, and ethical materials, produced within a closed-loop life cycle.

Giant Kelp Photo Credit AlgiKnit
photo credit:AlgiKnit

The yarns are made from plant and algae-based biopolymers, most of which come from seaweed, and negates the need for harmful chemical usage throughout the production cycle.

Material Process Credit AlgiKnit
photo credit:AlgiKnit

Designed to fit into the existing textile ecosystem, AlgiKnit’s yarns readily absorb pigments using sustainable dye methods, reducing excess chemical and water usage.

Yarn Sample
photo credit:AlgiKnit

At Milan Design Week, Puma debuted its BioEvolution shoe that uses micro-organisms including bacteria, fungi and algae to eat material around the areas where the wearer sweats the most, creating unique ventilation patterns.

PUMA BioEvolution 1
The BioEvolution Shoe by Puma. Photo Credit: Puma

The BioEvolution shoe is a collaboration with the research organization Fraunhofer Institute and debuted at the “Materials Village” exhibition held by Material ConneXion Italia at Milano Design Week 2019.

PUMA BioEvolution 04
The BioEvolution Shoe by Puma. Photo Credit: Puma

It features a biologically active layer of the shoe-upper that acts like a dense nanosensor net and at a microscopic level maps the areas of the foot which produce heat and sweat. This mapping then creates a matching ventilation pattern, or in other words, living micro-organisms selectively remove material to create a unique fit.

PUMA BioEvolution 3
The BioEvolution Shoe by Puma. Photo Credit: Puma

Helsinki design studio Aivan has created the Korvaa headphones from fungus and bioplastics, combining two key material innovations The 3D-printed headband is made from yeast-produced lactic acid and the padding on the ear cups is made from a foaming protein produced by fungus and plant cellulose.

Armchair furniture sketch plan draftThe faux-leather finish on the ear cups is made from fungus, and the mesh over the speakers is derived from biosynthetic spider silk produced by microbes

In interiors, innovative biomaterials include  French designer Philippe Starck’s furniture collection for Cassina upholstered with a vegan leather alternative made from waste apple cores and skins.

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Apple Ten Lork is an original material made from apples. The Volage EX-S sofa designed by Philippe Starck for Cassina. Photo Credit: Philippe Starck

Propelled by efforts to reduce the impact of consumerism, The Buy It for Life and Biomaterials Movements will shape what we buy and how we buy in the coming decade.  

For more on what’s new and next in design, subscribe to The Design Tourist Channel and sign up for the blog email.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a freelance writer living in Orlando, Florida with many published bylines in magazines, newspapers, and multimedia sites. As a professional lifestyle writer, Karen specializes in art, architecture, design, home interiors and personality profiles. Karen is the writer, producer and host of the streaming series, The Design Tourist ( that brings viewers a global dose of design inspiration with episodes featuring the latest looks and trends from the world’s premiere design events and shows. She also publishes a quarterly magazine on design travel that you can read by clicking the link: Her journalism background includes seven years on-air experience as a TV news reporter and anchor covering a range of issues from education to politics. Her educational credentials include a Master of Arts in Mass Communications from Northeast Louisiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Louisiana State University. Throughout her career, Karen has written and produced dozens of documentaries and videos for educational, commercial, corporate, and governmental clients and appeared in many TV and video productions as a professional host.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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