Every year around seven million tons of seashells are tossed out from aquaculture and fishing industries. Although shells are a natural material, when they are stacked in discard piles, they emit odors and are unpleasant to look at. While some industries such as fertilizer producers tap into this material, Studio newtab-22’s Hyein Choi and Jihee Moon saw the potential for this industry waste in the form of art and interior design products. 

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A green tiled wall with a wooden table in front of it

Called the Sea Stone Project, newtab-22 has developed a process to grind the seashells into a powder. From there, they add other natural materials such as sand and mineral soil. They complete this process manually to avoid the use of heat, electricity and chemical treatments for a more sustainable process and end product. In its final form, the Sea Stone Project provides a material that is solid and durable like ceramic or porcelain, with a look similar to stone or concrete materials. 

Related: Artist 3D-prints biodegradable agar floral lamps

A hand holding up seashells

Moon and Choi became interested in the material after discovering that the majority of seashell waste was being dumped into landfills or piled near the water’s edge. This is creating a dirty pile that continues to grow without a focus on cleanup efforts to remove it. With a makeup of 90% calcium carbonate, the material is similar to natural limestone, so the designers decided to use it in a similar way. 

Hands holding up powder

In addition to producing the environmentally-friendly and sustainable Sea Stone, the project means reducing waste disposal costs and preventing marine pollution. Of course, it also means recycling a natural material into a usable and valuable product. 

A mirror with a stand, sitting on a white shelf

The finished product can be compared to terrazzo in that each piece has a unique look that varies in particle size and color. No two pieces look identical, resulting in a natural aesthetic. The resulting decorative tiles have been used at a small scale for interior design products such as mirrors, vases and candle holders. 

Two women heads turned to each other, sitting down on stools

“We are interested in natural, new or overlooked materials,” stated Studio newtab-22 in a press release. “We seek the beneficial and intriguing properties of the materials, trying to bring them into modern life with our design. We aim to critically bring sustainability into society with the outcome of our work. We suggest the possibilities for today and tomorrow, facilitating innovative experiments while following the aesthetically pleasing aspect of nature itself.”

+ Studio newtab-22 

Images via Studio newtab-22