While recycling has become second nature to many people, it's easy to forget that we still throw away tons of useful materials every single day. Designer Matthew Waldman of Nooka took a short break from creating cutting-edge timepieces to do his part by saving up his daily coffee grounds for a year, with the plan of finding them a new life.
"Living in New York City is a bit frustrating as there is little or no recycling for organic refuse," says Waldman. "When organic garbage is put in a landfill sequestered by plastic bags, it does not biodegrade and return to the soil." Though he originally thought the grounds would become home to an under-sink mushroom colony, eventually Waldman got the idea to use them in a composite material so he could make something more permanent with his coffee.
After a few weekend studio visits full of trial and error, Waldman found the right balance of resin and coffee particles to create a terracotta-like substance, which he could cast into straightforward little pots. And the first Pothra was born.
But going from a single successful prototype to a mass-produced product has proved to be quite the challenge. "We want to use a bio-resin," says Waldman, noting the overall green mission of Pothra. "On a purely technical side, they take about ten times longer to cure and harden than polyurethane resins, which impacts the production schedule in a big way."
The results though, are worth the trouble. Because coffee is a natural product, different batches of grounds react differently with the bio-resins, producing a massive amount of color and texture variation—think dark roast espresso grounds versus blonde roast beans ground for a French press.
Pothra is currently on Kickstarter, and a $35 pledge will ensure you your very own handmade Pothra.
Images by Nooka