Berlin design students Lobke Beckfeld and Johanna Hehemeyer-Cürten have developed a translucent fruit-leather handbag.
The new handbag dissolves in water and can be used to fertilise plants once it is no longer needed.
The Sonnet155 is made from two different post-industrial waste materials – fruit skins left over from juice production and short cellulose fibres sourced from a local textile factory.
Although it resembles a purse or tote with swooping top handles, the handbag has a lifespan closer to a disposable paper bag and is designed to degrade naturally with wear before it can ultimately be composted or recycled.
“We designed the handbag as an upgrade to the ordinary paper bag but of course, we hope that it appeals to people in a strong way and will be worn, used and loved until it starts to dissolve,” Hehemeyer-Cürten told.
“Thus, it might also be a temporary handbag. The elegant shape transforms the material into a desirable product, which represents sustainability as a treat rather than a burden.”
This is reinforced with cellulose fibres shorter than five millimetres long, which are filtered out during the industrial textile production process because they are too short to be turned into fabric.
Combined with warm water, the mixture is left to cure in a mould for up to five days before it is sewn together.
“The percentage of cellulose, as well as the length and density of the fibres, determine the structure and level of translucency and the resilience of the handbag material,” said Hehemeyer-Cürten.
Alternatively, the cellulose can be filtered out with a sieve and reused, while the pectin can be repurposed as plant food.
Beckfeld and Hehemeyer-Cürten, who are completing their master degrees at the Weißensee Academy of Art Berlin, are currently looking for manufacturers and industrial producers to collaborate with to make the Sonnet155 handbag commercially available.