Shell Homage has won numerous awards from around the world for their innovative designs that turn discarded nuts and egg shells into usable materials.
Long before she won awards from around the world for her innovative designs, Egyptian material engineer Rania Elkalla noticed the amount of leftover nut shells her family left behind. Studying product design as an undergraduate at the time, she noticed how hard and wood-like the shells were, and wondered why they hadn’t been used to create usable material.
“I was so consumed with the question of how do we turn something we think is trash into something precious?” Elkalla told CairoScene. “I collect shells from stores, farms, restaurants, bakeries and then clean them and grind them. We press down our paste to make a big sheet. I try to make each sheet look completely unique on the surface, just like how every piece of marble and granite looks different.”
After some experimenting, she jumped at the opportunity to pursue her master’s degree in Germany and explore material engineering further. Some time later, she added egg shells into the mix and came out with her final product. A marble-like, biodegradable material that has won her multiple international design awards, countless exhibitions across Europe, and time on German television.
Some of her star products include floral handcrafted vases, wall clocks, lighting fixtures, and even hair combs. But that’s not all Shell Homage makes. The company has started creating light furniture units, garment accessories like buttons, as well providing B2B material for various companies by selling them uncut sheets which they can use in a plethora of ways. From business cards, decor pieces, tabletops, the list is endless.
“The idea is to create a beautiful product that will be stable for as long as you’re using it. But the moment you discard it and put it into some soil, it is biodegradable," Elkalla adds. "We don’t need to compromise design for sustainability or vice versa.”
In the future, Elkalla wants to expand Shell Homage into retail and work with eco-conscious stores and hotels. For now, you can learn more about their products through their IG page.