Avocado Seed Material Research (La Rentrada)
‘Avocado Seed Material Research’ is part of ‘La Rentrada’, a project that uses appropriate technology and local resources that are normally discarded or underutilised like seaweed, to transform avocado seeds into a wide range of materials, objects and applications spanning all sectors of the economy. From an alternative clay to make bricks and adobe, to plastic, leather and glass substitutes, electricity and even oil for powering vehicles.
The project seeks to balance material excesses and shortages in the world and in the process re-imagines the immaterial realities of such a world in which these proposals would evolve from speculation to reality.
Varying recipes, the research uses avocado seeds, a material that is available in large volumes worldwide. In the USA alone, per-capita consumption has more than doubled between 2010 and 2020 (1). The project reimagines the seeds of these avocados as a potential substitute for sand, a material that is everywhere around us (from the concrete buildings where we live, their glass windows, our electronics, and more) and one that is being extracted at a rate that exceeds natural replenishment rates. As of 2019, we needed an average of 18 kg per person per day (2).
Likewise, the research reimagines algae extract as a potential substitute for cement. Cement production alone accounts for 8% of global CO2 emissions (3). Could it be replaced with alginate, a binder made from brown algae extract, such as Sargassum? A macroalgae whose rapidly increasing presence in the Caribbean (from 2011 to 2014 alone, its presence grew by 10 times (4)) constitutes one of the largest ecological threats to this megadiverse region where its inhabitants largely depend on tourism and natural resources.
On an ecological approach, this project deals with issues related to decarbonisation, circularity, non-extractivism. On a human approach, the material deals with re-imagining collaborations, exchanges and notions of belonging.
The process starts with the collection of the avocado seeds, which are provided by Cornelio Quechotl, a Mexican worker at Food Story, a supermarket that is located 1.6 km away from the Fragmentario studio. This collection occurs at variating times. Sometimes up to 2-3 times per week, sometimes only once a month. This variation depends on the number of seeds collected by Cornelio, as well as the workload from Cornelio and María-Elena Pombo (Fragmentario).
Upon receival of the avocados, Pombo washes them in her studio and leaves them to air-dry. Depending on how she will use them, she either boils them until extracting a pink colour from them or grinds them until obtaining a fine avocado-seed-dust. These processes last from around 1 week to a month, depending on the exact life the seeds will have.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Brown algae extract, tree resin, deadstock fabrics, glycerine.
Avocado Seed Providers: Cornelio Quechotl at Food History, Luis Lares at Cosme