Many people only see the oceans as a source of food and recreation, but designer Nienke Hoogvliet sees far more potential in those vast ocean depths. In a bid to show “the duality between plastic waste in the oceans and the sustainable materials the oceans have to offer,” Nienke transformed salmon skins, a common fishing industry waste product, into beautiful fish-leather furniture. The handcrafted pieces were created as part of her RE-SEA ME collection and include a small stool with fish leather seating and a conceptual rug.
RE-SEA ME is a continuation of Nienke’s earlier project, SEA ME, a rug made from sea algae yarn, that also highlights the contrast between the abundance of plastic waste in the oceans and overlooked ocean resources. Nienke created her fish-leather pieces by hand, using an old time-consuming tanning technique to produce a strong and sustainable material without the use of any chemicals. Though almost any kind of fish skin can be used, the Delft-based designer chose unwanted salmon skins collected from local fish shops.
Both of the RE-SEA ME pieces show off the skins’ natural textures, colors, and shapes. With the stool, Nienke stretches out two long pieces of tanned skin suggestive of the length and shape of an actual salmon. The conceptual rug comprises scale-shaped fish leather pieces sown into a discarded fishing net. Although each piece was crafted by hand through a laborious process, Nienke believes fish leather could be produced at a larger scale.
“With this project she would like to raise awareness for the waste issues we have with the oceans,” says a statement on the Studio Nienke Hoogvliet website. “She tries to show the beauty of materials out of the sea in the hope to inspire people to work with them more often.” Nienke recently displayed her project at Dutch Design Week 2015.
Images via Studio Nienke Hoogvliet