luffa lab: sustainably made products by mauricio affonso
luffa lab: sustainably made products by mauricio affonso luffa lab: sustainably made products by mauricio affonso
sep 17, 2013

luffa lab: sustainably made products by mauricio affonso

luffa lab: sustainably made products by mauricio affonso
all images courtesy of luffa lab




exploring new applications for luffa material, brazilian born london-based designer mauricio affonso has produced a series of innovative products using the fast growing tropical vine plant. working in collaboration with a luffa community in bonfim a city in minas gerais, brazil, mauricio learned about the origins of luffa from farming communities, artisans and trading experts. the material originates from the same family as cucumbers, pumpkins and courgettes, and is traditionally used as a bath sponge – its vast range of properties also include being highly absorbent and antimicrobial.


 ‘I was inspired by the astonishing properties of luffa’ he says. ‘luffa fibres form a complex network of cellulose that act like an open cell foam material that is both extremely strong and lightweight’, says mauricio.


these features make it a viable material for applications such packaging, filters, low cost splints and acoustic insulator. formed by stretching the luffa fibres when wet and compressing them into a mould, the splints are made at a very low cost, providing an affordable solution for people living in countries with limited or no access to health care. strong, light-weight, breathable and completely biodegradable, the splints perform better than expensive, synthetically made ones.



low cost luffa splint phototypes



additionally the project demonstrates how luffa can be used to soak up toxic dye waste from the denim industry. the resulting coloured luffa can then be moulded to form luffa acoustic wall tiles for home and commercial interiors.


‘it is not often that a designer will stumble upon a material that can offer so many possibilities’, mauricio explains, ‘the goal of luffa lab is to combine innovative designs that advance sustainable materials and practices that will entice a positive social and environmental outcome.’


luffa lab by mauricio affonso will be exhibited during the london design festival at the sustainrca show & awards 2013 from 20 september – 4 october.



luffa acoustic tiles



detail of luffa acoustic tiles



luffa moulded packaging corners



early experiments



luffa community in bonfim, brazil



luffa flower



luffa vegetable



mauricio peeling off skin of luffa



drying luffas



luffa fibres



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    design news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    489,447 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample