The humble eggshell is gaining attention as a resourceful design material.
While eggshells are compostable when crushed, a series of designers have explored their structure and speckled finish to create furniture, lighting and sculptures.
A 2013 case study entitled Soil–cement bricks incorporated with eggshell waste authored by Mateus Carvalho, Siqueira, Destefani and Holanda found that "eggshell waste can be used in soil–cement bricks with excellent technical properties." The authors also found the application useful in civil engineering as a low-cost, alternative raw material.
German designer Sebastian Aumer recently created the eggo! stool which is constructed from 70 per cent eggshells and features repurposed wood as legs.
Aumer looked to local bakeries and cafes to collect eggs which would otherwise have been discarded and added a host of non-toxic materials to form the stools, including casein, starch and vinegar. Approximately 1,000 eggs were used to create each eggo! and the creations were then baked for up to two hours to solidify and bond the materials.
The design aesthetic also resembles that of an egg carton and the two stools were created in blue and pink.
When users are done with eggo! the seat can simply be composted.
This is similar to the work of eco designer Adital Ela, who took to the soil to produce Terra, three stools made from compressed earth and agricultural waste which are also compostable when they’re no longer required.
Designer Eric Chapeau of the Chapeau Design antique restoration and design workshop in New Jersey is also in on the egg game. Chapeau uses eggshells to create a mosaic-style surfaces, having been introduced to the technique in 1999.
According to Chapeau, using eggshells is an ancient Vietnamese technique that was introduced to the Western world in the 1920s. The application of eggshells to surfaces of furniture and interiors is referred to as Coquille d’Oeuf by the French. Since the technique emerged through the Art Deco area, eggshells were applied to adorn cigarette cases and dressing screens.
Today, Chapeau applies eggshells to furniture surfaces. The technique is fairly labor intensive and requires an artisan to meticulously hand-apply the eggshell one piece of a time.
In an interview with Architectural Digest, Chapeau said the eggshells are affixed to paper which is then coated with an epoxy and pigment to fill in the additional spaces. Once set, it can be attached to a wall paper or object such as a tabletop or cabinet and sanded and varnished for a desired finish.
Vietnamese artist Ben Tre went from creating eggshell sculptures to using eggshells to create lamps.
Tre carves landscapes and famous faces, including those of Albert Einstein and Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa directly into the eggshell using a slender electrical drill. Tre hollows out the eggshells and leaves the shells raw and untreated. The carving process usually takes a day to complete.
Tre adds an LED light inside the eggshell to illuminate them and places the works in glass globes to protect the sculptures.
Unlike the rise of furniture made from fungi or vegetables, eggshells can offer a very neutral, raw and beautiful aesthetic.