Design weeks around the world tend to be dominated by refined furnishings, sleek products, and glitzy lighting – but some of the most interesting works are those that challenge our assumptions about what design is – and what it can be. Independent designers and aspiring students are the masters of this realm, as they’re not afraid to push the envelope and experiment with wild ideas, new materials and novel techniques. Read on for 13 of the most innovative, though-provoking designs we spotted at this year’s London Design Festival.

Flywheel, Carlo Lorenzetti, energy, renewable energy, kinetic energy, clean tech, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

Flywheel by Carlo Lorenzetti

Designer Carlo Lorenzetti thinks that we are losing touch with the significance of energy in our daily lives – so he’s created a massive earthenware Flywheel that makes you work for your electricity. The monolithic USB charger generates power as you spin the wheel, but it’ll takes hours and hours to fully charge a cellphone.

As above so below, green materials, stardust, meteorites, micro meteorites, Kirstie van Noot, Xandra van der Eijk, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, experimental design

As above, so below by Kirstie van Noot and Xandra van der Eijk

Did you know that 37,000 to 78,000 tons of stardust falls on the earth’s surface every year? Dutch designers Kirstie van Noot and Xandra van der Eijk have set out to harvest this rare material – by collecting it from the rooftops of houses in the Netherlands. Their project As above, so below showcases the micrometeorites they have found, and suggests ways that these precious materials can be used.

Trashpresso, Pentatonic, recycling, reycled materials, solar power, recycling, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, experimental design

Trashpresso by Pentatonic

Trashpresso is the world’s first mobile, solar-powered recycling plant. Designed by Pentatonic, the micro factory transforms plastic bottles into architectural tiles right before your eyes.

0.6 Chair, Joachim Froment, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

0.6 Chair by Joachim Froment

What’s the absolute minimum amount of material needed to create a chair? That’s what Joachim Froment sought to find out – and his answer is the 0.6 Chair. Froment developed an innovative production process to create a sturdy, super lightweight seat made from just 0.6 cm of wood veneer and carbon fiber.

Plasma Rock, Inge Sluijs, recycled materials, green materials, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, experimental design

Plasma Rock by Inge Sluijs

Some say that the world has entered a new geological period called the Anthropocene, which is marked by human influence on the environment. This idea inspired Inge Sluijs to harvest detritus from landfills and transform it into Plasma Rock – a new material made from 100% recycled waste.

Bottles Collection, Klaas Kuiken, recycled materials, recycled, recycled bottles, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

Bottles Collection by Klaas Kuiken

Klaas Kuiken gives fantastic new forms to common green bottles by wrapping them with wire, heating them in an oven, and blowing air into them with a compressor. The results are surprising, sculptural vases that bear little resemblance to their previous form.

Living Surface Carpet, Lizan Freijsen, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

Living Surface Carpet by Lizan Freijsen

Most people want to avoid stains and mildew in their homes – but Lizan Freijsen revels in these signs of decay. The Dutch designer has created an incredible collection of soft, woolen rugs that celebrate the rich colors found in mosses, lichens, and other living natural phenomena.

Nose to Tail Table, Nanna Kiil, food waste, salvaged materials, food, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

Nose to Tail Table by Nanna Kiil

This “Nose to Tail” table appears to have a typical terrazzo surface – but a closer look reveals that it’s actually made of by-products from the livestock industry. Designer Nanna Kiil sought to discover whether consumers can stomach a salami-esque table that incorporates pig parts that would otherwise be discarded. It’s a challenging, provocative piece that serves up the stark realities of our industrial food system.

Splatware, Granby Workshop, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

Splatware by Granby Workshop

Ceramic tableware is usually turned on a wheel – but Granby Workshop has found away to make amazing plates and mugs by using a hydraulic press to squish colorful mounds of clay! Their experimental SPLATWARE combines industrial techniques with handcrafted elements for spontaneous, creative results.

LOKAL, Space10, sustainable food, green design, sustainable design, london design festival, vertical farm, indoor farm, urban farm, sustainable agriculturePhoto by Rory Gardiner

LOKAL by Space10

What will the farm of the future look like? Future living lab Space10 set up a vertical hydroponic farm in the middle of London and invited passersby to try tasty food grown on-site. Over the course of six days their LOKAL pop-up served 2,000 salads made with microgreens and protein-rich spirulina microalgae.

On Reflection, Lee Broom, optical illusion, furniture, interiors, lighting, mirror, art, experimental design

On Reflection by Lee Broom

Lee Broom‘s London Design Festival installation boggles the mind. The mirror in this room is not what it seems – walk in front of it, and you won’t see your reflection. The trick? It’s actually a window to an identical room!

Fish Skin Textiles, Helene Christina Pedersen, salvaged materials, recycled, fish skin, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

Fish Skin Textiles by Helene Christina Pedersen

Fish skin is an overlooked waste product of the fishing industry. Helene Christina Pedersen has found a way to transform this material into a durable textile that can be applied to a wide range of furnishings.

Plastic Primitive, James Shaw, recycled materials, recycled, recycled plastic, planters, stools, london design festival, design, green interiors, sustainable design, green design, eco design, green furniture, green products, sustainable furniture, green interiors, eco decor, experimental design

Plastic Primitive by James Shaw

James Shaw has developed a technique for shaping recycled plastic into fantastical forms using a custom made extruder gun. For this year’s London Design Festival shaw erected a series of colorful planters and stools at the Ace Hotel.

+ London Design Festival Coverage on Inhabitat