Jean Louis Iratzoki designs "first bioplastic chair"

Maison&Objet 2015: Basque designer Jean Louis Iratzoki has moulded the shell of a chair from a plant-based polymer that is fully recyclable and biodegradable (+ slideshow).

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki

Jean Louis Iratzoki claims that the Kuskoa Bi chair designed for Basque furniture brand Alki is the first on the market to feature a 100 per cent bioplastic seat.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki

"We decided that the collection we are presenting for Alki, Kuskoa Bi, had to be a comfortable, enveloping chair and to achieve this we opted for a semi-concave shell," said Iratzoki.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki

Injection-moulded seats are commonly formed from non-renewable plastics, produced using finite fossil fuels that are considered harmful to the environment – something Iratzoki wanted to avoid.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki

"The production of plastic not only depletes the world's diminishing fossil resources, it is also a pollutant that harms the environment and is therefore contrary to Alki's fundamental principles on sustainable development," the designer said.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki

As an alternative, Iratzoki's studio researched and developed a type of plastic that is made using only renewable plant-based resources such as beet, corn starch and sugarcane.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki

The compound is obtained using a series of mechanical processes, followed by a fermentation period. The resulting polymer can be injected, extruded and thermoformed into the desired shape.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki
A robotic arm created the shape of the mould for the Kuskoa Bi chair

"This bio-based polymer is fully recyclable and its organic properties mean that, when subjected to an industrial process, it is biodegradable," said Iratzoki.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki
Creating the mould for the Kuskoa Bi chair

Shaped to support the arms and back, the shell sits within an solid oak frame that cups the underside of the seat.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki
A model of the bioplastic seat

A version of the chair is also available covered in a wool-based upholstery.

The First Bioplastic Chair Kuskoa Bi by Jean Louis Iratzoki
Finalising the form of the Kuskoa Bi chair

The design is set to launch at Paris trade fair Maison&Objet, which opens on Friday and continues until 27 January.