Marlene Huissoud is an artist with a penchant for experimenting with new ways to use natural waste. Last year, the French designer used materials made by bees and silkworms to create an incredible series of furniture and objets d’art. This year she continues the tradition with a pair of side tables made from another unlikely discarded material: waste from the production of sunflower oil.
The furniture was commissioned as part of “Passionswege” section of Vienna Design Week, a celebrated initiative that pairs international designers with traditional Viennese manufacturers to inspire new work from traditional craft techniques. Huissoud was paired with the family-owned Gegenbauer oil and vinegar factory. While visiting the factory in a dilapidated industrial district of Vienna last year, she was struck by the thick, vibrant waste extracted by the pressing machines that produce the oil.
“I found it so inspiring–it was a new palate of materials for me,” she says. The waste from camellia oil, for example, comes out a rich orange hue. The factory also produces apple oil, the waste of which is a pulpy substance that Huissoud considered for her piece. Ultimately, she landed on sunflower oil waste because of its strength. As a building material, it fit the part: the thick, charcoal black material comes out of the machine in long, skinny rods that almost look like wrought iron.
Huissoud spent a week at Gegenbauer, exploring the factory and experimenting with the material. “It was interesting to be on site,” she says. “You have to work with something unfamiliar, and with not a lot of tools. You have to create your own workshop.” This week, the factory has been transformed into an exhibition space to display Huissoud’s furniture for Vienna Design Week.
But the collaboration doesn’t stop there. Huissoud says that the factory is currently applying for a grant that will allow them to work together on a dining room table out of the same sunflower seed material. It’s just the type of relationship that the “Passionswege” initiative had in mind.
The yet-to-be-named side tables will be on display at Gegenbauer Vinegar Brewery from September 25 through October 4.