Paper has been intrinsically linked to the design consciousness since it was first created centuries ago. The material has found uses which talk to function and aesthetics since its conception; and yet, the appetite for reinventing the material amongst the design elite is still insatiable.
Moulded fibre is an application of paper which is now pushing design boundaries across industries, from hospitality and packaging to interiors. But what can really be created from paper fibre and a bit of water? How can aesthetic appeal and functionality be drawn from what the layman might identify as papier-mâché?
Standard paper converting processes, corrugating, folding box manufacture, rigid box manufacture and tube making are all part of the repertoire for paper packaging, however, the most well-known moulded fibre product is likely egg boxes or packaging for fruit. This functional piece of packaging protects the product and is a large part of what moulded fibre is used for today. But, what are the real capabilities from a design perspective? The answer is… they are endless.
The material is used for disposable plant pots which degrade to serve as a fertiliser after the contents have been planted; it has replaced plastic-based cutlery for food on-the-go and we have even seen moulded fibre paper waste used as a construction material in furniture design. An example of the latter is Dutch designer Tim Teven, who created shelves, benches, tables, and stools from moulded fibre.
Closer to home, COLOURFORM™ is a thermoformed, plastic-free, moulded fibre packaging solution from the James Cropper group, and it has been a part of the story for some of the most disruptive brands in their markets. Following two years of research and design, COLOURFORM, working with Pusterla 1880, created a packaging solution for champagne brand Maison Ruinart; completely reimagining the traditional champagne box. Wrapping around the champagne bottle like a second skin, it accentuates the distinctive silhouette of Ruinart’s product, rather than hiding it away.
The subtly textured white surface is incredibly tactile, and while it protects the champagne from light-strike, it also embodies the tradition at fine-dining restaurants of serving the champagne wrapped in a white serviette. Not only that but the second skin casing is nine times lighter than the existing box and reduces the carbon footprint by 60%, compared to the current generation of Ruinart boxes.
While moulded fibre is being embraced by heritage brands in the luxury space it is also being used by challenger brands as part of their eco-design story.
COLOURFORM uses 100% natural renewable wood fibres from sustainably managed forests and high-quality recycled fibres from its own world-class reclaimed fibre plant, CupCycling, giving new life to waste from a variety of sources including used coffee cups.
Even outside of the packaging world, moulded fibre delivers on eco-design, aesthetic appeal and functionality, making the possibilities endless.