We are in an urgent need to shift our current cradle-to-grave paradigm. Take-away cups and packaging are a standard of everyday life but they produce an incredible amount of waste that ends up in landfills and contaminates our precious waterways and landscapes. What if aside from being a material resource, nature could also provide a solution for this worldwide issue?
Along the exploration that this thought intitiated, CRÈME identified gourds as a fast growing plant that bears robust fruits each season, developing a strong outer skin, and fibery inner flesh. Once dried, gourds have traditionally been used by ancestors as receptacles like cups. CRÈME explored this centuries-old craft, using molds to grow gourds into functional shapes, such as cups and flasks to create sustainable, renewable, and compostable products without waste.
“In Japan watermelons are grown in little boxes so that they become square. It looks quirky and weird, but it makes them easy to stack and transport. The idea is giving nature a little bit of a nudge to form it into shapes that would be more functional.”
— Jun Aizaki, the principal of CRÈME —
wHY WE CHOOSE
Gourds are fast-growing plants that bear robust fruit each season. Once dried, the gourds' strong outer skin and fibrous inner flesh becomes watertight – so these crops have been used for centuries across the globe as decorative or functional vessels. CRÈME is exploring this centuries-old craft through a modern lens to create a product that we believe can be mass produced while maintaining its sustainability. Through the use of 3D-printed molds, we can grow gourds into customizable functional shapes, such as cups and flasks that can be composted instead of filling up landfills like the plastic alternative.
Aside from the sustainable benefits of the The Gourd Project, the 3D printed mold allows us to create a deliberate aesthetic that can be both beautiful and functional. Through many studies and prototypes, we have developed a set of pieces that mimic the silhouette of a classic faceted glass cup and a carafe with a lip detail.
Even though the practice of molding gourds has been around for centuries, there are complications to mass producing a consistent product with an organic material. We started our experiment growing a few gourds outside in our backyard and eventually found a farm to take on a larger batch. However, there are a variety of factors that cannot be controlled in an outdoor environment, such as humidity, pests, weather, and flooding. We would like to explore growing gourds in a controlled setting to limit these external factors and see if we can produce a more consistent product.
THE NEXT STEP
The Gourd Project Indoor Lab is the next step in this journey to finding a sustainable alternative for the notorious plastic cup.
NYC X Design Honoree
The Gourd Project is one of the finalists of NYC X Design awards.
what’s the next?
Like all new projects, we are starting small and hope to scale up to increase quantity and lower the price per gourd, so that the The Gourds can be a viable challenger to the plastic waste industry.