Material

Olive pomace

By

Made in

Biodegradable 244 Fair Trade 12 Plant-based 177 Regenerative 55 Vegan 95 Algae 12

Olive pomace
Olive pomace
Olive pomace
Olive pomace
Olive pomace
Olive pomace

Deconstruction of an Olive

“Deconstruction of an Olive” is an ongoing material research project developed by Anna Perugini. The research explores olive pomace, the by-product of olive oil, and its potential for designing objects. Situated in Cartoceto, Marche, Italy, a village where Perugini’s family once grew their olive trees alongside a small farm, the project aims to propose less extractive design practices by connecting local knowledge, small-scale farms, mills, and research.
Italy is the second-largest producer and exporter of olive oil worldwide. However, the production of olive oil in the Marche region is less than 1% of the total Italian production. The economic tissue is formed by family-run businesses and small mills renowned for their high-quality extra-virgin olive oil. The harvesting and cultivation methods are rooted in traditional practices. The olives are harvested by hand and brought to the mill on the same day to avoid altering the flavour of the oil.
The process of transforming this organic matter into an object confronts the researcher with obstacles and practical challenges reflecting the influence of capitalistic and extractive systems, in which we are inherently entangled. Using an auto-ethnographic approach, the material research serves as a way to understand and analyse the complex relationship between food systems, waste streams, and design practices.
The project’s geographic location underscores scalability constraints and the critical link between fair trade socio-ecological by-products and traceable raw materials. Currently, Italy, like other European countries, faces significant issues with cheap labour and exploitation. Migrant workers constitute the backbone of the agricultural workforce and are often underpaid, deprived of their human rights, and exploited. Using olive pomace from a village where the community is closely knit ensures that workers are treated legally, thereby circumventing exploitative practices. However, as the project scales up, it becomes increasingly challenging to avoid these systemic issues. Additionally, tracing the origin of olives becomes more complex as mills relocate and expand.
Working with organic matter raises important questions about embracing its dynamic nature, including fermentation, oxidation, and odours, while also considering the design applications of a material that undergoes biodegradation and requires a lengthy drying process. If in the short term, the goal is to create a new material from agricultural waste and a collection of objects, in the long run, the project aims to employ creative practices to empower a shrinking community, fostering sustainable regrowth in a depopulating area.

Making process

The olive pomace is collected from local mills and divided into skin, pulp, and stones, which are transformed into three potential materials with diverse textures, colours, and features. The olive pulp is mixed with a biodegradable binder, creating a mixture that can be processed with different production techniques: moulded, pressed, or 3D printed.

Text submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank. For information about reproducing (a part of) this text, please contact the maker.

Ingredients

Olive pomace, algae based biodegradable binder