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This gorgeous marble-like material comes from sunflowers

Biomaterials never looked so good

Green and white tiles on wall Image: Thomas Vailly

Biomaterials aren’t always the most beautiful to work with (case in point, anything made with mycelium), but Eindhoven-based designer Thomas Vailly has figured out a way to turn sunflower crop byproduct into a gorgeous marble-like material that can be used to craft panels, home objects, and packaging.

White and green slab of foam Photo: Thomas Vailly

Working with scientists from École Nationale Supérieure des Ingénieurs en Arts Chimiques et Technologiques, Vailly used the leftover parts of a sunflower harvest—things like stalks and the substance left behind after pressing the seeds for oil—to make glues, foam, and varnish.

Green foam Photo: Thomas Vailly

The stalks, for instance, are separated into bark and marrow. The bark is then heated and pressed into hardboard; meanwhile, the marrow is combined with a water-based glue to create a foam-like material.

“The sunflower crop offers a unique range of bio-based and biodegradable material,” Vailly tells Dezeen. “What is important to keep in mind is that these bio-based materials are different from what the industry and consumers are used to. Bio-based materials are not to be seen as a replacement for their synthetic counterparts, they have different qualities that can be exploited.”

White and green slab of foam Photo: Thomas Vailly

The exciting quality of this particular material is that it’s unusually beautiful. The hardboard and foam have a green and white pattern that almost looks like little stones that have been arranged into a rippled green slab of terrazzo.