Walking on eggshells used to be a bad thing, but not anymore, now that sustainable design studio Nature Squared has transformed them into some of the most stunning organic tiles you’ve ever seen. British-Chinese textile designer and weaver Elaine Yan Ling Ng worked with Nature Squared to produce Carrelé, a new collection of multipurpose wall and floor tiles that transform a waste material into something truly beautiful through a circular design approach.
Every year, about 250,000 tons of eggshell waste is produced around the world, and most of it ends up in landfills. Ng developed a new way to incorporate them into a composite formula base design that acts as a bonding agent. Up to 3,000 eggshells go into every square meter of tile, laid out in designs that draw from East Asia’s traditional eggshell inlay art. The shells are cracked, roasted, colored, and laid out by hand to produce distinctive organic patterns, colors, and textures, some of which closely resemble snakeskin. The way the shells interact with the specific dyes, some crushed so small you can’t even tell what they are anymore, produces an effect that’s truly one of a kind. They’re also smooth and easy to clean, so they can be used in demanding places like kitchens and bathrooms.
“We tend to associate eggshells with fragility, but they’re actually very strong and naturally UV-resistant,” Ng told Wallpaper. “They also absorb natural colors sustainably in fascinating ways, making them a wonderful building material. We use natural dyes, such as indigo, madder, and chlorophyll.”
Eggshells are just the latest natural material to be transformed into beautiful tiles by Nature Squared. While some are more conventional, like bamboo, leaves, vines, mother of pearl, capiz, and other seashells, others are equally surprising, like feathers, bone, and skin. The use of animal products can be controversial, but Nature Squared notes that these materials are byproducts of the food industry, coming from animals like chickens, cows, and fish, and would otherwise go to waste. But while the pieces from those collections make the sources look identifiable, with a more literal result, Carrelé is decidedly more abstract.
Prior to this eggshell tile project, Nature Squared worked more on custom projects rather than reproducible products. Their furniture, wall panels, and mirrors are frequently installed in places like private jets, superyachts, palaces, and villas for some of the world’s richest people. Co-founders Lay Kool Tan and Paul Hoeve brought in Ng to help create new methods and products that can divert larger volumes of waste away from landfills and broaden the potential for the company to make a difference with their circular design strategy. If you’re interested in any of their designs, contact Nature Squared directly for more information.
“Bespoke work doesn’t usually involve repeat processes, nor does it maximize an existing supply chain or natural materials’ potential, which limits the amount of natural waste that can be used,” says Ng. “With eggshells, for example, most people see waste, but I see an endless playground and limitless resource.”