While researching my topic on the health impact of materials I started looking at manufacturing techniques and how they impact or health. While looking at a variety of bricks, carpets and plastic composites I came across a material designed by the Cradle-to-Cradle duo William McDonough and Michael Braungart. This material a traditional Japanese plaster call Shikkui is manly composed of limestone. It can be applied to walls and ceilings in a variety of ways creating either a smooth modern effect, or a rough rustic affect that mimics Venetian stucco. The truly remarkable thing about this product is its commitment to sustainability that McDonough and Braungart are famous for and its health benefits.
Shikkui plaster emits no VOCs during it life span. In fact this porous material absorbs VOCs and helps improve the interior air quality of a building. The high-grade calcium carbonate also naturally acts as an antiseptic preventing bacterial, viral, and fungal growth. As a product designed within the Cradle-to-Cradle model it utilizes the up cycling principle through its use of eggshells. Eggshells are a rapidly renewable resource that composes half of the calcium carbonate needed to create Shikkui plaster. The materials that we chose to surround ourselves with need more attention that what they project on their aesthetic. Materials that contain low or no VOCs should be the minimum. Materials should engage and improve the environments that they are applied. As designers we are ethically responsible for what we put forth in the world. This includes the invisible effects that our buildings have over the people who chose to inhabit them.