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Kaffeeform Julian Lechner c Luke Marshall Johnson 5

Kaffeeform: Combining the science of sustainability with the aesthetic longevity of good design

We had the chance to learn more about the innovative team behind sustainable start-up, Kaffeeform, and how we can all look toward a greener future.

It goes with­out say­ing that the restau­rants and cafés that we fre­quent­ly vis­it are respon­si­ble for a large amount of food waste. Despite there being an effort with­in the indus­try to change this, it seems to have come down to those who are not direct­ly involved in gas­tron­o­my to lead the way with a design-first approach.

Based in Berlin, sus­tain­abil­i­ty start-up Kaf­feeform used the prob­lem of envi­ron­men­tal­ly harm­ful take­away cof­fee cups as a spring­board for their reusable cof­fee mug that is inge­nious­ly made from cof­fee grounds.

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Meet the design­er, Julian Lech­n­er, who asked the sim­ple but impor­tant ques­tion; what hap­pens to used cof­fee grounds? 

It turns out that we actu­al­ly waste over 80 mil­lion kilos per day. Lech­n­er eval­u­at­ed and exper­i­ment­ed with this nat­ur­al, raw mate­r­i­al and learned that when com­bined with oth­er biodegrad­able mate­ri­als, it can be an envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly mate­r­i­al alter­na­tive for fos­sil-based raw materials.

We got the chance to chat with the man behind the team, Julian, and ask the ques­tions we’ve long been pondering.

Kaffeeform Julian Lechner c Luke Marshall Johnson 2

You’re a prime exam­ple of how design­ers can play an immense role in our indus­tries’ eco­log­i­cal evo­lu­tion. How can design tru­ly change the world? How can envi­ron­men­tal­ly con­scious prod­uct design shape our future rela­tion­ship to consumption? 

We believe that sus­tain­abil­i­ty and design go hand in hand, and in these times there real­ly isn’t room for a prod­uct or design in gen­er­al that does not con­sid­er any envi­ron­men­tal or sus­tain­able aspects. Design can pave the way for sus­tain­abil­i­ty into people’s dai­ly life. We want to show that a sus­tain­able prod­uct can be well designed, aes­thet­i­cal­ly and prac­ti­cal­ly, and then inspire peo­ple to rethink the way we con­sume and the way we use our resources. We use a resource that would oth­er­wise go to waste, and we’ve found a way to cre­ate some­thing new out of it – the cir­cu­lar idea of reuse and repur­pose is at the core of our busi­ness. Our mate­r­i­al is based on renew­able and recy­cled mate­ri­als only, yet still very durable, and will last for a long time — basi­cal­ly, it keeps the cus­tomer happy!

As we are all, in one way or anoth­er, part of the cycle of con­sump­tion — from food to cloth­ing and enter­tain­ment, how do you feel your per­spec­tive on what being a con­sumer means has altered since launch­ing this project?

Since launch­ing Kaf­feeform, I’ve start­ed to watch and crit­i­cal­ly review my con­sumer behav­ior with more inten­si­ty and now I have this altered per­spec­tive on resources. It had an impact on how I shop, eat, trav­el and live in gen­er­al. I embrace reusing and recy­cling and am crit­i­cal about what I real­ly need, where I buy and try to live as close to nature as pos­si­ble. Nat­u­ral­ly, this sounds very ide­al­is­tic, and no one is per­fect and it is nec­es­sary and ok to com­pro­mise, but it’s a nat­ur­al process and jour­ney I find myself on. 

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When did you first start to learn about sus­tain­abil­i­ty or become aware of the issue?

There was no wake-up call moment or sit­u­a­tion, but an increas­ing dis­sat­is­fac­tion with how we treat our plan­et – which I had long before the cli­mate cri­sis and before the aware­ness of it spread out into the pub­lic domain.
I had begun reflect­ing on the lav­ish lifestyle of oth­ers and the num­ber of resources used to uphold it. I real­ized, so much goes to waste that could still be eat­en, used or repur­posed. And the increas­ing glob­al cof­fee con­sump­tion leaves so much cof­fee grounds that go to waste, real­iz­ing that, the ini­tial idea to repur­pose that alleged waste soon was born. 

Do you think that it will be the trend of sus­tain­abil­i­ty rather than the fact of the cur­rent glob­al-envi­ron­men­tal cri­sis that will end up enforc­ing tan­gi­ble and long-last­ing eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal and cul­tur­al change? 

Sus­tain­abil­i­ty has become quite a trend, but we need to dif­fer­en­ti­ate as trends come and go. There are com­pa­nies, peo­ple and ini­tia­tives that real­ly want change, want to make a dif­fer­ence based on the real­iza­tion that we have to act as time is run­ning out. We see an increas­ing num­ber of great inno­va­tions, solu­tions, and ini­tia­tives com­ing from prod­uct design that real­ly do make an impact and the demand is grow­ing.
Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this leads to many com­pa­nies only using the name or con­cept of sus­tain­abil­i­ty as a pure mar­ket­ing tac­tic to increase short-term sales. But we believe in the crit­i­cal con­sumer out there who is able to dif­fer­en­ti­ate. Both the trend and the grow­ing pub­lic aware­ness and pres­sure, espe­cial­ly from young peo­ple not will­ing to accept the lethar­gy and unwill­ing­ness of those in pol­i­tics and our econ­o­my, will hope­ful­ly increase and result with tac­ti­cal­ly effec­tive, long-last­ing change. 

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And so, what is the future of Kaf­feeform? What are your goals and how much fur­ther would you like to take this product?

We want to con­tin­ue our mis­sion to cre­ate long-last­ing prod­ucts that replace dis­pos­able cups and sin­gle-use prod­ucts and be an inspi­ra­tion for more sus­tain­abil­i­ty in every­day lives. As Kaf­feeform is not only the cof­fee cups but the inno­v­a­tive mate­r­i­al, we are ever explor­ing new pos­si­bil­i­ties to cre­ate long-last­ing, beau­ti­ful prod­ucts out of it. We are think­ing in the direc­tion of fur­ni­ture, acces­sories and much more. Excit­ing times are ahead, that’s for sure! 

11 Aug 2019 · neubau eyewear