September 25, 2019


Industrial hemp is a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species. Largely grown for industrial purposes, it was one of the first plants to be turned into basic fiber 10,000 years ago. Here is our pick on 5 projects that employ this versatile material in the most uncommon product applications.

Industrial hemp is a hardy and renewable resource now refined for various industrial applications. Compared to other plants, hemp is unbelievably versatile: it grows very fast in a variety of climates and soil types, without fertilizer or pesticides. Moreover, hemp has antibacterial properties and it has a very low environmental impact: about one ton of harvested hemp fiber should be able to absorb 1.62 tons of carbon dioxide.

The hemp plant can be used almost entirely: for example, its fiber is spun to produce fabrics, the seeds are grounded for oil productions while hemp trunk pressed with glue is used for a variety of building materials. Additionally, the plant cellulose is widely used for bioplastic production and other parts of the plant are employed by the paper industry.

Over time, the application of industrial hemp evolved into an astonishing number of products including food, clothing, furniture, construction materials, biofuels, plastic composites and many more. Currently, industrial hemp is used in over 25,000 products globally. Here are some innovative and environmentally-friendly alternatives created with industrial hemp.

Sustainable monolithic plant pots by Yasmin Bawa

Yasmina Bawa designs pots transforming hemp into a biodegradable material
Organic shaped hemp-made pots by Yasmin Bawa

The Berlin-based artist Yasmin Bawa transforms hemp into biodegradable material to create her monolithic plant pots showed during Paris Design Week 2019. Called Hempcrete, the bio-composite material is a mix of lime, plaster, and hemp. The result is a thick paste, which Bawa molds to create organic shapes, later coated with a finer paste mixed with natural colorant, and finally polishes with olive oil.

Since Hempcrete does not require to be fired in a kiln: it needs very little electricity during its production and process of transformation into the monolithic plant pots.

EAVan – Electric Assisted Vehicles by EAVcargo

EAVan is a new genetation of electric vehicles made of hemp and peanuts by EAVan
EAVan, designed by EAVcargo, is an electric vehicle made of hemp and peanuts

EAVan is a new generation of electric vehicles designed, engineered and manufactured with the aim to make transport as environmentally friendly as possible. The company was established to control and reduce the impact of urban deliveries and the resulting carbon footprint and pollution. This is why they designed a series of environmentally-friendly cargo quadricycles with a unique pod made of a mixture of hemp and peanuts.

The EAVan features a 250-watt motor and electric pedal assist which provides more propulsion power to the vehicles, supporting the rider. It carries up to 150kg of cargo, certainly less than a delivery van, but its compact design and its ability to maneuver easily allow it to cross narrow alleyways, cutting down delivery times.

The hemp-made van has the potential to create a cleaner, healthier blueprint for the next generation of mobility and to help underpin more ecological minded communities.

Scale by LAYER

Scale, designerd by LAYER, is a modular acoustic system made of triangular hemp tiles
Scala, a modular acoustic system made of hemp tiles, designed by LAYER

London-based design studio LAYER has designed Scale, a modular stand-alone acoustic system made of triangular hemp tiles. The Scale system is an easily demountable, versatile and sculptural space diver that provides elegance with improved acoustics. It relies on a hexagonal framework that is constructed from three individual thermoplastic sections. These joint together to create a base for the covering fabric tiles, made of recycled and pressed hemp, which is three times cheaper and grows 10 times more quickly compared to other natural fibers. The double-sided triangular pieces clip to the framework thanks to magnets placed at the corners of each tile. 

The entire Scale system can be assembled without tools. The modular framework can be adapted for the needs of various spaces, additionally removing some of the tiles to create openings. Thanks to its adaptability and modularity, Scale has an extended lifespan and, consequently, a lower carbon footprint, compared with non-modular designs.

Hemp Skateboard by Rolkaz Collective

Rolkaz Collective uses natural and sustainable materials, such as hemp, to design their skateboard
Hemp and flaxseed-made skateboards designed by Rolkaz Collective

The startup Rolkaz Collective designed a line of skateboards entirely made from hemp. Founded to raise awareness on responsible production processes, Rolkaz Collective created a skateboard only using locally grown natural materials.

The boards are made of 100% natural hemp and flaxseed, glued together with a high-performance plant-based resin. While trees take around 60 years to grow, hemp only requires 12 to 14 weeks, resulting as a sustainable and valuable option for the creation of high-quality products.

Ein Hod ecological house by Tav Group

 Ein Hod ecological house is made of Hempcrate walls and designed by Tav Group
Ein Hod ecological house made of Hempcrate walls by Tav Group

The Haifa-based studio Tav Group designed a residential building on a hill in northern Israel. In order to create a harmonious blend with the surrounding, Ein Hod ecological house incorporates Hampcrete walls and local stone, which give a unique sand-color to the house.

Hempcrete is a composite mixture made up of hemp and hydraulic lime, which is cast within timber frames, providing good thermal insulation and absorbing carbon dioxide emissions. Ein Hod features a thick layer of earth-based plaster covering the outer Hempcrate walls, while the inner partition walls are made of rammed earth cast on wooden frames.

Another interesting design project is the Highlight pendant lighting collection by High Society: a set of plant-based lights designed by up-cycling post-industrial waste, among which industrial hemp.

If you are curious about further uses of hemp, make sure to watch the TED Talk by Kyle Oliveira on its application in the textile industry and beyond.