There's no shortage of design students turning out crappy furniture, but Sanelisiwe Mafa is making furniture from crap. And we're not talking repurposing old junk here, the Product Design Student from Birmingham City University has literally used crap as a material – cow manure to be precise.
Cow manure is the very definition of a renewable resource, with a mature Holstein cow alone producing over 110 lb (50 kg) of manure a day, which adds up to around 21 tons a year. Although it makes good fertilizer, Mafa decided to turn the waste into an environmentally friendly material that could be used to craft household items.
After some experimentation, Mafa came up with a manure/binder mix that was able to be molded and styled into a variety of shapes and sizes, all while retaining the "detail of the material" – which means there's more than a hint of undigested grass visible in the final product.
"Before I could even make the products I had to source out a supplier for my manure which was the smelly part, because I needed sterilized cow manure and had to dry it out in my room before mixing it with the binder," says Mafa.
The end result is a range of stools and flower pots that are mounted on wood stands. All parts of the furniture are recyclable, with the manure able to be reclaimed for use as fertilizer if you end up having second thoughts about sitting on a cowpat.
The manure furniture isn't available to purchase at the moment, but Mafa says "I feel like there's more to come from this project." So, you never know, you may one day see a Pöö unit when wandering around Ikea.
Source: Birmingham City University