South Korean artist crafts furniture from cornstarch

Video credit: Reuters Studio
Published on April 20, 2020 - Duration: 03:10s

South Korean artist crafts furniture from cornstarch

Forty-four-year-old artist Ryu Jong-dae experiments with various cornstarch-based bioplastic in the bid to protect the Earth.

Rosanna Philpott reports.

South Korean artist crafts furniture from cornstarch

This is Ryu Jong-dae, a South Korean furniture designer based in Seoul.

His unlikely go-to material?


(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN ARTIST, RYU JONG-DAE, SAYING: "After the process of grinding dehydrated corn finely into a starch form and then solidifying it, it turns into solid coil which can be used for designing and producing by using a 3D printer." As plastic increasingly becomes an environmental pariah, a growing number of furniture and homeware designers are experimenting with bioplastic, a green alternative made from renewable sources.

Vegetable fats and oils, seaweed, fish scales, and cornstarch have all been deployed in the quest to protect the Earth from plastic pollution.

44-year-old Ruy is among the pioneering designers.

His collection of side tables made of cornstarch was launched in 2019.

And it's not just the material that's worth mentioning.

All of Ruy's furniture is also 3D-printed.

(SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN ARTIST, RYU JONG-DAE, SAYING: "One of the reasons I work with 3D printers is because I was contemplating how to reduce waste that comes from the creative process.

But you still waste materials even if you use it (a 3D printer).

If I throw these (leftover materials) out, that would just be more trash, so I gather them to design products that actually have a function." (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN ARTIST, RYU JONG-DAE, SAYING: "Digital crafting is meaningful, because it expands the scope of work from existing crafts by using new materials, such as bioplastics.

It also reduces waste that comes from the creative process and helps the global environment by using eco-friendly materials." The World Bank said humans generated 242 million tons of plastic waste in 2016.

In South Korea, more than 8.2 million tons of plastic waste were produced in 2018, according to the Korea Environment Corporation.

Plastic production has surged in recent decades, leading to widespread use of inexpensive disposable products that are having a devastating effect on the environment.

Most commonly used plastic made from petroleum does not biodegrade.

Instead, it may take hundreds of years for it to decompose into smaller pieces.

Bioplastics, on the other hand, can be naturally broken down in certain environment.

Ruy says he has started to experiment with other kinds of bioplastics, including one derived from shrimp shells.

SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN ARTIST, RYU JONG-DAE, SAYING: "I think bioplastics made from shrimp shells and fish scales are very close to being commercialized.

I'd like to work with those new bioplastics, and I'd also like to work with recycled plastic from fishing nets or other marine waste to create artwork using 3D printers or other digital technologies." (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SOUTH KOREAN ARTIST, RYU JONG-DAE, SAYING: "The resources that we use now are finite, so I think artists should care about the way of reducing waste when they design and make products for the public."

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