Explorers of sustainability: furniture made from seaweed and fishing nets

Explorers of sustainability: furniture made from seaweed and fishing nets

Mycelium, recycled fishing nets and bioplastic made from seaweed are just some of the materials Anna and Alexander use when designing furniture and interiors. Their natural partner on this modern and sustainable design mission is a Škoda Enyaq.

9. 11. 2023 Škoda World Responsibility

When they’re in need of peace and inspiration, Anna Eliasson and her colleague Alexander Westerlund regularly head to the picturesque Sotenäs region on the west coast of Sweden, about 150 kilometres north of Gothenburg, the country’s second largest city. The two dogged dreamers, as they describe themselves, from Stockholm-based creative studio Interesting Times Gang, see their mission as pushing the boundaries of sustainable design.

Back to childhood

Why do they find so attractive about the quiet location and what effect does the environment have on their work? This part of Sweden is more than just a scenic retreat for Alexander and Anna. It’s a place that reawakens the feelings of wonder they remember from their childhood. “I think part of the reason we come here is to rekindle that spark of childhood,” says Anna. The world felt bigger and more magical when they were children – and returning to the seaside retreat helps them boost their powers of imagination.

Port in Sotenäs on the west coast of Sweden


When it comes to sustainable design, Alexander and Anna are not just practitioners, but innovators. One of their most interesting projects involved creating a coffee table using artificial intelligence and sophisticated algorithms. “AI generated hundreds of organic forms and shapes, almost like Gaudi’s sculptures,” Alexander laughs. It wasn’t just a piece of furniture, but an exploration of how technology can mimic the complexities of nature – right down to shapes resembling a human collarbone, for example.

Alexander and Anna look for inspiration in organic shapes and forms.

Inspired by the AI-generated organic forms, the studio ventured into the world of 3D printing. “We found a technique that can print these natural shapes,” says Anna. This technological leap wasn’t just a one-off experiment for them – it became a cornerstone of their design philosophy. From that moment on, nature-inspired shapes have reappeared in all their products.

Interesting Times Gang – creative studio

Interesting Times Gang is a design studio from Stockholm. Interesting Times Gang is an interdisciplinary collective of artists, material developers and creative technologists, obsessed with the creation and craftsmanship of aesthetic objects and environments, produced from beautiful circular and regenerative materials.

3D seaweed chairs

Their interest in sustainability is evident in their portfolio. One noteworthy example is a modular wall made of orange peel and bioplastic from waste. There’s also a series of wall panels made from mycelium, the root system of fungi. They are currently exploring seaweed. “We had the idea of 3D printing a chair out of seaweed and then submerging it in water to see what happens,” Alexander explains. This isn’t just about creating a piece of furniture – it’s about exploring the potential of marine biomass as a sustainable material.

A chair made from seaweed - pushing the boundaries of marine biomass as a sustainable material

Ghost nets

Alexander and Anna aren’t indifferent to the provenance of the materials they use. “We try to take as much as possible from local sources. We focus on Europe. Much of it comes directly from the local community on the west coast of Sweden,” Anna explains. That’s true of plastic retrieved from the sea, which they’re using to develop a new table. They work with local fishermen who collect abandoned fishing nets, known as ghost nets, and with a nearby waste sorting plant that’s trying to create a demand for marine waste. “We’re interested in the distance our material travels. The mycelium, for example, is grown locally here in northern Europe,” Alexander adds.

Discarded fishing nets can be recycled.

The issue of sustainability pervades their personal lives too, which is why Anna decided to go for an Enyaq after a good experience with a Škoda Superb. As she says, owning an electric car is the best option the market currently offers. 

The future

When it comes to the future, they’re optimists. Pragmatic optimists, as they put it. Their innovations have not gone unnoticed. They recently received funding for the next year and a half to research bioplastics using seaweed and Japanese oysters, an invasive species found along the Norwegian and Swedish coasts. “We grind up their shells and see if we can make new materials out of them,” Anna says. Their future plans include making particleboard from seaweed, biodegradable bioplastics, and hardboards or tabletops from marine biomass.

Their studio is more than just a business. They see it as a platform for inspiration and change. “Our goal is to show what is possible in terms of materials, products and design,” explains Anna. They make no secret of their determination to push boundaries and replace fossil alternatives wherever possible.

Explorers of Sustainability

Short films about sustainability, connecting with nature, living in harmony with the world around us, not destroying the environment and taking only as much from it as we need. This documentary series showcases interesting and inspiring people, their imaginative projects and their unconventional and humble approach to life. As they all live and work in today’s modern world, it goes without saying that the documentaries also show the connection between the issue of sustainability and the current automotive world. The people showcased in the films have rugged and sustainable partners – cars with a winged arrow in their emblem.


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