INTERVIEW with BASSE STITTGEN
by Sophia Reißenweber, Amon Zänker & Charlotte Bolinski
What are the benefits of protein-based bioplastics?
I am generally not an expert for protein-based bioplastics. What interests me about the containing proteins are the resources like egg white, blood, or the different kinds of seeds like hemp seeds with which it is possible to create promising materials with interesting properties without supplements.
What is your preferred protein source?
I did not think about this before, for me are the technical properties of a materiel more important and the proteins are used as means to generate attention for an often intransparent production process, for example in the case of the blood material the procedures in the meat industry. If I could answer this question more abstract I would say the source which has the least impact on nature and our resources, what is the reason why I am working with waste.
From which intention was the concept born to make plastics out of blood?
Out of the intention to bring production and consumption closer together again. Like I said before, the meat industry is completely invisible and most people do not know what happens with a side product like blood. With this project I try to give this side product a solid form with which you an confront one another and additionally to that I try to create an intimate moment between animals and humans, for example through the vinyl record out of blood which plays the sound of a cows heart beat.
How important and for which applications exactly is the development of bio-based and biodegradable plastics?
Biomaterials are just one part of the solution for the big problems and tasks which are confronting us in means of overconsumption and exploitation of resources. Guidelines by law concerning plastics and consumer habits from every one of us are playing the biggest role. That is why I try through my projects to call on us as consumers to act more careful and cautious with resources and to question the origin of things.
What do you think about the communication of bioplastics in society? How do you rate the current situation?
A big problem of the communication of bioplastics is often that the designer or inventor is mixing up reality and vision and that is why it is getting dishonest. There are often statements like that a bioplastic is for example made out of fruit peels will revolutionize the market, what is left out is that additionally to the fruit peels there is traditional PLA is used as material or a “bio” casting resin which is everything but not “bio” and with that also in the design area is a lot greenwashing going on. Openness and honest communication should always be the priority.
Do you have a tip for us or is there something we should definitely think about if we experiment?
Ask a lot of questions! Especially bio design is living from collaboration between different partners with different backgrounds. For me, it is the collaboration and confrontation with other people in different areas, for example, those who work in agriculture are those who are contributing the most in my projects with waste.
Basse Stittgen is a designer and material researcher based in Amsterdam. His current work explores the potential of industrial waste streams through the lens of materiality. He seeks to create narratives by altering the status and context of matter, ‚disabling‘ it and thereby illuminating invisible processes, often industrial and often associated with waste.