20 February 2015
The ZUPERZOZIAL Collection
Design Focus - Remco van der Leij
Zuperzozial is not only zuper stylish, but also kind to the environment too. Made from natural bamboo & corn powder to bind it together, Zuperzozial is completely durable for multiple-uses and food-use approved by both EU & US regulators. The entire range is ethically produced and takes around 3 years to degrade once disposed of. Zuperzozial is non-stain too, so you can use for serving anything, from tasty dressed salads to presenting your speciality spaghetti bolognese! The rustic, almost stone-like feel to the range, also complements perfectly the philosophy behind this biodegradable tableware collection.
Zuperzozial is stocked Nationwide via our network of both Independent and National retailers. Health food chain Wholefoods was the first major name to stock the range and is availble in-store now.
Here we meet Remco van der Leij - the man behind the collection - to tell us a little more about it's inception and philosophy behind the brand...
Remco, welcome to the Forma Blog! Firstly, can you tell us how Zuperzozial evolved as a collection?
For years we were searching for an eco-friendly material that would be suitable for a contemporary table setting. After finalising our desired visual effect for the range, we focussed on designing a Mix & Match concept. The collection contains about 8 colours and users can vary as they wish. With just 3 or 4 colour combinations, customers can completely customise their own Zuperzozial collection.
Was it a purposeful move to produce a range that was biodegradable?
Yes, very! We see the market moving more and more into sustainable products. It all started with the organic food revolution, which really shifted the mind-set of consumers - as we all become more aware of the environment we live in. For us, it was a big - but exciting challenge - to develop a material that was both visually pleasing and practical in terms of durability.
People are often surprised when they find out the range is made from bamboo and corn powder, why did you decide to use these very specific materials?
Bamboo is a perfect alternative to many kinds of less eco-friendly materials, such as ceramics and melamine-ware. By using the old “techniques” of producing tableware, it was only a matter of finding the right ingredients to produce an environmentally friendly alternative. We specifically choose bamboo-fibre - not just plain bamboo - to develop a completely new aesthetic in terms of shape and design.
The range is incredibly durable; do you think bamboo is going to be used more and more in the home for a multiple of uses?
I believe so. As all our Raw Earth Collections show, bamboo can be used in many ways. Not only the bamboo-wood, but also as a fibre. And bamboo grows rapidly. We harvest our wood after just 3 or 4 years. That makes the material very eco-friendly. We are keen to show people the multi-purpose use of this plant through the evolution of Zuperzozial.
As we all become more conscious of protecting the environment, do you think there will be more of a demand for retailers to stock ethically produced products? Is that demand/trend growing already?
Definitely! When we launched our collection, people were only conscious of certain ethically produced products in the market - such as organic foods. Or more on a service level, like LED-lights, using less packaging, more local production and insulation of homes etc. Only a niche-group was already finding new ways to produce lifestyle products. It took us a year to convince our clients that an ethical approach was the future of homeware production. And most importantly, that the material's being used were durable as well - always a vital factor when designing homewares. A few years on and people now understand our message and Zuperzozial is becoming more and more mainstream.
Zuperzozial makes a real talking point for the table, how did you go about designing the collection?
Because the material is so new, we decided to keep the design clean and simple.I also wanted to make it easy to communicate the story of Zuperzozial in-store and of course convince customers of the benefits behind this innovative and unique material composition. For me, the Mix & Match concept for using Zuperzozial is just as important as the product design. I love the idea of each Zuperzozial table being different through colour and individual product mix..
What would you say were your points of inspiration?
As a designer, I am always studying new possibilities - not only products or new designs - I also feel the responsibility of finding better materials to work with and consider how we can help make the world more conscious of our human impacts. A kind of mission :-)
What does the future hold for the Zuperzozial brand? Are any new product ideas in development or extensions to current lines being planned?
Besides extending our Raw Earth Collections (bamboo fibre-ware), we have developed many ideas for using new materials in the home - not all have succeeded by the way, it is very much trial and error in this new arena right now, but that is what makes it pretty exciting for me as a designer!
If you could design anything in the World what would it be?
Haha, 10 years ago I would say a chair! But now I believe that design-companies such as ours, have a responsibility to focus more and more on both the social and environmental issues now connected to production. When the industry as a whole makes this a priority, every design-result will make me happy - even if I don't neccessarily like the design!
And finally who are your design Icons?
WindowFarms by Britta Riley