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El Celler de Can Roca Turns Its Waste into Furniture

Under the Roca Recicla initiative, the award-winning Catalonian restaurant and design studio Andreu/Carulla turned one day of polystyrene waste into a limited-edition stool

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Text by Rab Messina
Photography by courtesy of Andreu/Carulla

The daily tasting menu of the award-winning Celler de Can Roca, a veritable gastronomic institution in Girona, brings in six large polystyrene containers from local fish vendors. Those white crates used to go to waste —the material is rather difficult and noxious to recycle— until Andreu/Carulla, the restaurant’s go-to product design studio, suggested turning them into furniture.

And thus, under the Roca Recicla zero-waste initiative, the RR201 stools were born.

The honeycomb-shaped seats are made by shredding the containers into raw expanded polystyrene through a custom-made pedalling machine, in order to limit the use of electricity. The material is then moulded and injected with steam to set the shape; finally, each piece is sprayed with an eco-friendly coating that gives the stool its pastel hue. Meant to be used in the Michelin-starred restaurant or sold as limited-edition keepsakes to the 45 guests who visit the restaurant every night, the RR201s are designed to last a lifetime.

This isn’t the first time the two Catalonian lateral thinkers have worked together to give new life to everyday materials: the Roca brothers and Carulla have produced sketched cutlery, bendable plates, a hot ice cream machine and a pop-up card that doubles as a serving space. But this is one of the first products made under the Roca Recicla umbrella, an innovative environmental project in the high-end restaurant industry. That caught the eye of Rossana Orlandi, who displayed the deceptively light —that’s less than two kilos, even if they look and feel like concrete— but unexpectedly durable stools in her Guiltless Plastic selection during this year’s Milan Design Week.

“The [Rocas] have a lot to tell and they tell it very well… so this is just adding one more element to their story: you’re sitting on furniture that’s integrated into the story of the restaurant,” explained Andreu/Carulla’s Adam Johnston. “It’s something made from the transportation boxes that bring the best produce to them, they make the best food in the world, and now you’re sitting on a part of that chain.”

roca recicla
After cleaning the used boxes, they are manually shredded into raw expanded polystyrene
roca recicla
The bits are manually set into a mould that fits the equivalent of six crates --that's the exact amount used per day in the tasting menu
roca recicla
Instead of melting the polystyrene, which has noxious results, the material is injected with steam
roca recicla
After applying an eco-friendly colour coating, each stool weighs less than two kilos

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