MONC’s new eyewear boutique is a model of sustainable design

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Opening a store is difficult these days. It can also be expensive and unnecessary. When MONC Eyewear, Treehugger’s top luxury sustainable sunglasses brand, opened their first store, they designed it so that if it had to be moved, it wouldn’t leave a trace, promising that “everything that is inside the MONC store can be reused in its next location, will fit into a home environment, can be taken apart for recycling or returned to the ground as food.”

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I used the term “built from the sun” to describe these materials that are made from carbon, water and sunlight; the most common being wood. But MONC owner and creative director Freddie Elborne and designer Nina Woodcroft – creator of SILO, London’s first zero-waste restaurant and founder of London design studio Nina+Co – go way beyond that, using materials that I have not heard of or seen used in this way.

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The solid surfaces are made of bioacetate, the same material they use for their frames. Cellulose acetate is one of the oldest bioplastics, invented in 1865. It was combined with plasticizers such as diethyl and dimethyl phthalate to make the plastics used for high-quality glasses, but like us previously noted, “Phthalates have been found to have serious impacts on our environment as well as a wide range of concerns related to their effects on our health.”

Bio acetate, made by Mazzucchelli in Italy, replaces the phthalate plasticizer with an “exclusive plant-based plasticizer solution”. It is apparently biodegradable in 115 days according to ISO 14855, dissolving in carbon dioxide, water and mineral salts. This worried me, because my glasses are made of this material and I am in the sun and rain all the time with them. But apparently you have to bury them to let the soil microbes do the work.


MONC uses cornstarch foam in displays.

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Cornstarch foam is used in the displays and on the spectacular ceiling. MONC says, “The functional material was originally used as packaging, but now, for the first time, it is incorporated into the store due to its beauty and ethereal nature. It is compostable, recyclable and dissolves in water.


MONC also used cornstarch foam in the spectacular ceiling.

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This is something interesting that we have developed as a renewable alternative to polystyrene foam. While MONC says it is recyclable, one US manufacturer noted that it is “NOT a recyclable material.” He added: “Rather than taking up valuable space in your home, garage or recyclable containers, we suggest you simply flush it down the drain, compost it or use it as a fire starter for grills. , fireplaces or hearths.”

The flammability of this ceiling really worries me. It’s not typically used as an architectural product, but according to PakFactory, “cornstarch wrappers have low flammability.”


Wavy hemp.

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Hemp is used in many ways, including as a fabric in curtains and also as a strong corrugated board, which I have never seen before. MONC learned it from Margent Farm, where it is used in a notable building by Practice Architecture.

According to seller Margent Farm, it is “a corrugated sheet made from hemp fibers that can be used for exterior and interior wall cladding. The sheet is bonded with a sugar-based resin made entirely from agricultural waste.Our hemp sheets are a natural alternative to corrugated steel, PVC, bitumen and cement.The sheets can be used outdoors to form a rain screen or indoors as a ceiling or wall covering or other acoustic treatments.The product is natural and, like UV-exposed wood, the color will lighten over time.

It looks fabulous, but it’s not cheap. Margent Farm worked with composites developer Cecence – another interesting company worth looking into – to produce the panels.

In the MONC store, “The waved hemp panel adds playfulness, tactility and contrast to our scheme which is reflected in the 100% hemp fabric curtain hanging below the main island. a doormat, we also opted for 100% hemp.”


MONC created podiums for their mounts from mycelium and hemp.

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Finally, we have the mycelium, the magic mushroom. MONC wrote:

“Mycelium is one of the most sustainable and renewable resources you can find in the natural kingdom. By working with mycelium, we are able to create objects of natural beauty that help the environment rather than to harm it.When grown and formed into a strong form, it becomes the perfect alternative to petroleum-based products, especially for non-biodegradable packaging and building materials.People are just beginning to harness the potential of mycelium in a variety of applications beyond their natural environment, and we look forward to seeing the future of mushrooms.”

MONC worked with Ashley of Natura Design to create catwalks for their frames from mycelium and hemp. He noted: “When gently dried, the mycelium becomes inert and we end up with beautiful furniture that looks a lot like natural stone. The network of hyphae of mycelium weaves through the hemp and slowly consumes it. , which helps to tie it all together into a solid form.”


A view through the front window.

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Strictly speaking, I shouldn’t include mycelium in my “built from the sun” category, because fungi aren’t plants, don’t have chlorophyll, and don’t need sunlight. But as Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy who considered them plants, said, “plants grow and live; animals grow, live and feel”. And as editorial director Melissa Breyer has repeatedly noted, trees and plants grow, live, and feel, so those old definitions are crumbling. Also, Linnaeus got a lot of things wrong, so consider that writer’s license.


MONC owner Freddie Elborne and designer Nina Woodcroft have developed a store.

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Elborne and Woodcroft did something truly remarkable here: they didn’t build a store, they expanded it. But they did not take root permanently; they designed it for deconstruction. They used wonderful materials in innovative and unusual ways. It’s not just a store, it’s a manual for sustainable design.

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