catch of the day


What makes good design? Or rather, what makes design “good”? Aside from creating playful, innovative design that feasts on the senses, celebrates nature and thrives on bold colors, Icelandic design is taking steps in bringing positive change to society.


A recurring theme in this year’s DesignMarch in Reykjavik– the 10th anniversary of the festival – is social design. The international and local speakers at DesignTalks explored design’s power and potential to be a catalyst for social change, in several different aspects.


One of the speakers is Icelandic designer Björn Steinar Blumenstein. He addresses the global problem of food waste and presented a very simple and ingenious solution to it. Through his project, Catch of the Day – which is exhibited during the festival  – the designer produces vodka from thrown-away fruits using a simple distilling machine that he made himself.


“Food waste is a huge problem everywhere in the world. It’s bad for the environment, it’s a waste of resources and money, and still, we throw away 40% of all the food we produce,” Bjorn explains. The motivation for the project grew out of frustration, as the designer – who has been dumpster diving for years – sees perfectly fine food being thrown away by supermarkets and food importers. After finding out that anything with over 20% alcohol doesn’t require an expiry date, Björn was inspired to give food materials an endless storage time by virtue of never going bad.

At first, he approached professional companies, but found the process very bureaucratic and slow. “I just needed to kind of talk about this right now,” he shares. “So I designed and built a simple open-source distilling machine and shared it online for free, so that more people could join me on doing something about this.”



Anyone can build their own distilling machine using kitchen equipment and parts that can easily be bought in stores. Assemble using the free guide available on Bjorn’s website and just add fruit from your local dumpster.


Angel Trinidad



Angel Trinidad is an editor, writer and creative strategist based in Amsterdam. She is the author of ‘Scandinavia Dreaming: Nordic Homes, Interiors and Design’, and co-author of ‘Night Fever 5: Hospitality Design’. She is also the founding editor of Keen On Walls, a website which features inspiring interiors, design and spaces.