Project zero : explorative interrogation of material and fabrication processes through zero waste chair design : an exegesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Design, Massey University College of Creative Arts, Wellington, New Zealand
Project Zero is a response to the volume of waste produced
in the fabrication of timber furniture. It joins the ‘zero waste’
movement that has been adopted by progressive thinking
communities worldwide — which share a common interest in
resource conservation (Connett, 2006; SF Environment, 2011).
While zero waste philosophies address all aspects of material life
cycles, zero waste design fundamentally seeks to prevent waste in
the creation of a product, thus eliminating unnecessary resource
consumption from the outset, through design.
In this practice-based research project, a zero waste chair is
designed through an explorative reiterative process, where
materials greatly inform new technologies, aesthetics and form.
Materials not only influence the physical attributes of the chair,
but also shape how it is experienced (Karana et al., 2014).
Through visibility of material and fabrication processes, the Pare
occasional chair communicates a design story of a zero waste life
The central innovation of the research is the development of a
new zero waste composite material, made from mycelium and
timber veneer. It is the result of an extensive interrogation of
material manipulations and fabrication processes. The mycelium
material, which is grown using waste wood shavings and live
fungi, is programmable and can be moulded or pressed. The
veneer, rather than being layered into a sheet product then
machined, such as with plywood, is first shaped using zero waste
pattern cutting inspired by textile processes. The shaped veneer
is then laminated with the mycelium into compound curves,
eliminating the need for post-processing.
This research extends the emerging discourse around zero
waste design. In particular, it offers a critical design response to
‘zero waste’ chair design using timber products. The resulting
design proposition is positioned as a prototype for an iconic
zero waste chair. Subsequent research beyond the scope of the
current project would facilitate commercial application of Pare.
Furthermore, the research findings around zero waste material
innovation offer opportunities for the advancement of material
conscious design and fabrication for other zero waste products.