“In the future, I aim to go further into the realm of sustainability by encompassing a biomimicry approach to my design process, production methods, as well as how the studio operates as a whole.”
Committed to making everyday items more sustainable yet also aesthetically cutting-edge, Danielle Trofe Design combines 100% renewable materials with modern techniques to create furniture, lamps and garden installations.
The company's Principal, Head Designer and namesake, Danielle Trofe, speaks to Dave Songer about what’s important to her in terms of design, learning from mistakes and the many uses of mushrooms.
Dave Songer (DS): Hi Danielle, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. Could you start by telling me what it is that sparks your interest in bio-based products?
Danielle Trofe (DT): My inspiration comes predominantly from nature. The natural world is our greatest mentor. By listening to and learning from nature Danielle Trofe Design (@DanielleTrofe) can not only create sustainable and resilient products and systems, but also truly innovative and influential ideas and concepts.
(DS): Where did you learn your skills?
(DT): I have a master’s degree in design where I learned how to use 3D modelling software that enables all my design work. I am also currently pursuing a second master’s degree in biomimicry as well as becoming a certified biomimicry specialist. Biomimicry is looking at nature’s form, function and ecosystems and emulating these deep patterns and principles into human design.
(DS): What do you enjoy most about what you do?
(DT): I am extremely passionate about what I do but it hasn’t been the easiest career pathway, as most entrepreneurs can attest. However, I strive to make my work meaningful and to have the ability to effect positive change or, at the very least, to not leave a negative footprint on the planet. There’s nothing more enjoyable than the ideation, research and design phases. Bringing something truly unique to life feels like a noble purpose.
(DS): What advice would you give someone also looking to make bio-based products?
(DT): Start experimenting now. Fail and fail quickly in order to continue to iterate and evolve. There has never been a better time to do so, with much more free information and resources readily available and accessible to all ages and all experience levels – Google it!
(DS): What details can you give me about some of the projects you’re working on?
(DT): Currently, I grow lampshades and other interior products using mushroom mycelium, in collaboration with Ecovative. Other work includes hydroponic vertical gardens, hanging window gardens and kinetic energy-powered lighting. In the future, I aim to go further into the realm of sustainability by encompassing a biomimicry approach to my design process, production methods, as well as how the studio operates as a whole.
(DS): Can you give some details on the most challenging project you’ve worked on and explain why?
(DT): Between adapting the vertical hydroponic units for retail and creating the grow-it-yourself lamp kits, there’s been a lot of challenges in the process of designing for consumers, scaling technologies and communicating the importance of adopting these innovations.
However, I'd say one of the greatest challenges I've faced is in communicating rather than creating. How you communicate a material, an emerging technology or a whole new process of creating objects effectively is difficult, but absolutely crucial if you wish to have widespread adoption
(DS): Where would you most like your work to be displayed?
(DT): Preferably, at home… in every home, where these bio-based innovations should be accessible to all.
(DS): Finally, you must encounter a lot of bio-based products; what are your favourites and why?
(DT): Living Ink, an environmentally safe and biodegradable printing ink grown from algae; BioPop’s Dino Pet, a bioluminescence living aquarium of dinoflagellates; BioMason Bricks, biomaterials company that grows cement using bacteria; BioBot’s Bio Printer, an accessible, desktop printer for all your bio-printing projects; and Mother Dirt - beauty products that restore healthy, living bacteria to your skin.
(DS): Thanks Danielle, best of luck with getting more of your unique products in people’s homes.
Danielle is one of the may expert speakers at this year's Bio-Based Live in San Diego in later this month. A limited number of tickets is still available to join Danielle plus Patagonia, IBM, P&G, Yulex, the US Department of Agriculture and many more bio-based and sustainabillity leaders.
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