10 clever and sustainable design ideas from the future

Corn candle holders on a table
Corn candle holders on a table
By Lucy Wagstaffe
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We examine an array of eco-conscious innovations in design.


Over the years plastic has been at the heart of design, often because it is affordable and easy to work with. We've been reflecting on the changes that are being made in the world of design to create products that are more sustainable and have less of an environmental impact. We decided to investigate the innovations that are taking the design world by storm and that seem like they’re from the future...

A toothbrush with replaceable miniature bristle-heads

It’s scary to think that the toothbrushes we’ve used in our lives are still somewhere on the planet. Paris-based Alexandre Touguet has designed a toothbrush that allows you to replace the small, capsule-shaped unit that holds the bristles, so you can reuse the body of the toothbrush again and again. It’s suave in style too.

Alexandre Touguet Photos
ToothbrushesAlexandre Touguet Photos
Alexandre Touguet
ToothbrushesAlexandre Touguet

Cork design pieces for the home

Melanie Abrantes uses sustainable cork that is a bi-product of the wine industry to create stylish home furnishings. The pieces are made using traditional techniques and the design is ecologically sustainable. Interestingly, cork is naturally antibacterial and will act like a natural drainage system so it’s ideal for those beloved house plants!

Melanie Riccardi
Cork plant potsMelanie Riccardi
Melanie Riccardi
Cork home furnishingsMelanie Riccardi

Veneer made from Mexican heirloom corn

Have you ever imagined corn being at the centre of interior design and furniture? It’s not the first material that springs to mind! However, Fernando Laposse has developed a new sustainable material called ‘totmoxtle’ that’s made from Mexican grown heirloom corn. The project preserves biodiversity, supports local indigenous people and looks jazzy. What’s more, the designer uses the leftover corn husks and paper trimmings from the studio to create pieces for exhibitions.

Fernando Laposse
Veneer made from heirloom cornFernando Laposse
Fernando Laposse
Veneer made from heirloom cornFernando Laposse

A plastic free alternative to carrying your oranges

Eco-conscious memes on internet have sarcastically criticised fruit packaging with comments such as, ‘if only a banana had a protective layer’ or ‘why has nature not provided these segments of orange with natural packaging’, we agree that wrapping fruit in a plastic layer to ease carrying it is unnecessary. Although, it can be tricky to carry many oranges at once so thankfully VitaPack has created a plastic-free alternative.


Lamps made from recycled wood

The French design company Hurlu has created an aesthetically pleasing collection of lighting from scrap wood. The reclaimed wood is then transformed, by hand, to become a serene feat in eco-design. You can’t help but feel calm looking at these pastel colours.


Solar powered phone chargers

Now this design innovation really caught our eye. We all frequently have days when our mobile phone battery runs out and we’re left in the lurch. What if you could charge your phone using the reliable energy of the sun? This portable and compact design allows you to do just that. Attach the device to a window and watch the life come back into your phone.

Solar Window Charger with Suction Cups

Soap bottles that become soap once you’ve used them

Soapack bottles will melt away once they are no longer a use to you. This really does take the term zero-waste seriously. To make the product, a vegetable oil-based soap is dyed using plants, minerals and flowers. This is moulded and a layer of beeswax keeps the bottles waterproof before all the soap has been used. The bottles will dispose of themselves when in contact with water or when they’re empty. 

Soapack bottlesDezeen

Yoga mats made from retired wetsuits

Suga's yoga mat is very much on our wavelength... as it’s made using recycled neoprene wetsuits. Wetsuits that are no longer fit for protection from the waves can have another life and aid you to relax into the perfect Child’s Pose. Extra zen.

Yoga matsSuga
Yoga matSuga

Plastic-free shampoo

Becoming Palm oil, sulfates and plastic free, is the future of haircare. Leading the way in this design, HiBAR claims its shampoo and conditioner bars will deliver salon quality hair just without the unnecessary packaging. They claim they’ve taken the water out the lathering formula as you can get the water from the shower, it makes sense to us!

Water bottles made from recycled plastic bottles found in the ocean

This is no ordinary water bottle, this is a SOMA water bottle made from the material equivalent to two used plastic water bottles. Plastic found in the ocean near remote islands and washed up in coastal communities, is transformed into something durable and reusable. 

Header: Cork home furnishings - Melanie Riccardi

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