Researching the tactile material qualities of citrus biopolymers and their value for design.

In contrast to the striking colouring, the special leather-like material character of the peel of citrus fruits is hardly noticed. This very robust protective shell contains a range of different biopolymers, such as pectins, cellulose and acid, which prevent the fruit from drying out, promote its ripening and protect it from predators. They are mainly used in the cosmetics, food and medical sectors. This project is about their use in the production of biological plastics.

Overall, bioplastics have great potential to replace conventional plastics, but not yet in the field of so-called high-performance plastics. Their qualities lie above all in their sustainability and biodegradability, but also in their special, nature-like feel. The challenge is to use precisely these „new“ plastic qualities adequately in terms of design and to give them sustainable added value.

In bioplastics made from citrus peels, various pectins and other biopolymers ensure that films, for example, feel comparatively velvety. They also look less clear and have a slight colour cast. In the bioplastic patterns developed in this project, these properties and impressions are deliberately reinforced, for example through special embossing or perforations. By highlighting, usually in everyday disappearing features, these surfaces create a subtle sensitivity for the material and its handling, thereby transferring their special value to the wrapped product, for example when used as packaging material.