The high-design lighting retailer Flos has partnered with Bio-on, an Italian biotech company, to reissue an iconic plastic lamp in eco-friendly bioplastic. Flos says Philippe Starck’s new Miss Sissi lamp is the world’s first design object manufactured withpolyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), a water-biodegradable biopolymer made from the waste of sugar beet and cane production.
Miss Sissi has been sold in injection-molded polycarbonate–a common,environmentally vexsome plastic–since its debut more than 20 years ago. Flos claims the PHA version has no impact on the food cycle, requires no organic solvents, and is completely biodegradable in soil and water.
Miss Sissi’s eco-makeover isn’t earth-shattering news unto itself. It’s only one product, after all, and a small one at that. But if PHAs are as squeaky-clean as Flos suggests, they could have a significant impact on the design industry’s carbon footprint. Perhaps they could replace all the plastics that’ve defined some of the most famous, and beautiful, furniture of the past 50 or so years: the Panton chair, the Eames Plastic Armchair, everything at Kartell.
And the material isn’t limited to furniture design. “The technology is available at a global level,” Bio-on managing director Marco Astorri says, “and with the range of biopolymers developed by Bio-on, it is now possible to create a vast range of objects in all of the sectors currently using plastic.”
Biodegradable editions of Miss Sissi and Piani–another Flos lamp by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec–are expected to hit the market in early 2014. Prices aren’t available yet.