Local, biobased materials


Project partner

Circular Matters / Pro Natura / ETAP / Van Hoecke / NIKO

ONTketen - The bio-circular products of tomorrow.

Within the project ONTketen, cleantech start-up Circular Matters and design platform Livable join forces for a circular and bio-based future. Through a matchmaking process, three pioneering production companies work together with design studios on alternative products free of fossil and mined raw materials.


At ONTketen, the three partners - the cleantech start-up Circular Matters, design platform Livable and the social economy company Pro Natura - see sustainability in the broad sense of the word, in ecological, social and economic terms. By combining cross-disciplinary forces, they offer an alternative to our current economic and social system.

On an ecological level, ONTketen stimulates sustainability by working with natural raw materials. Because these come from local residual streams such as reeds and grasses, the project gives a second life to waste and avoids the use of scarce raw materials. Thanks to the developments of Circular Matters, the material can be made 100% from these natural side streams, and the danger of (micro) plastics is completely excluded.


In close consultation with designers and industrial companies, they are looking for ways to integrate a brand new circular material into regular industry. For that material, Circular Matters transforms natural waste streams into a natural biopolymer. It thus forms a healthy and fossil-free alternative to hard plastics or wood-based plates. After an open call, Livable Platform and Circular Matters paired three production companies with three design studios;

NIKO X Esther Van Schuylenbergh
Van Hoecke X Brent Neve & Giel Dedeurwaerder
ETAP X Studio Atelier PART


Since a product can only generate real impact if it has a real market value, all partners have an interest in working collectively towards this goal. In doing so, ONTketen wants to initiate a more ecological model and a different kind of economy, in which there is more room for human creation and meaningful work.

Livable Platform coordinates the entire process and challenges fellow designers and the industry to jointly explore a sustainable alternative, and look for a better balance between people and the environment. In doing so, ONTketen embodies the principles of the 'fourth sector', in which financial, social and ecological objectives go hand in hand.


The results were presented for the first time during Design Fest Gent (22.04 - 01.05), with a closing event on 28 April at 17h in Design Museum Gent.

The project was explained and the designers themselves shared their experience and results through a personal tour.

The prototypes are still in ongoing development. Ontketen is awarded with a Henry van de Velde Award 22 in the category 'Environment'. ONTketen is supported by Flanders states of the art;

thanks to advice


Circular Matters

Circular Matters is a cleantech startup that developed a new type of natural plastic, completely bio-based, local and circular. With this innovative material they want to offer an answer to the health and environmental problems linked to toxic resins in sheet materials and microplastics from fossil plastics.


Pro Natura

Pro Natura wants to be an example in the field of cooperation and innovation within the social economy sector. We are a group that pursues the creation of meaningful employment and the improvement of the ecological quality of our living environment in a sustainable and innovative way as completely equal objectives.



ETAP stands for more than 70 years of energy-efficient, comfortable and innovative lighting solutions in professional environments: offices, schools, hospitals, but also shops, warehouses and industries. With love and energy, we develop durable, ergonomic lighting and emergency lighting for our clients. In addition, circularity, ecology and corporate social responsibility are high on our agenda.

Our company was founded in Antwerp in 1949. Today, ETAP is a major player in the European market for functional lighting solutions. We develop and manufacture 100% locally from our head office in Malle (Belgium), but also sell internationally from various European branches. Throughout its growth ETAP has remained an autonomous Belgian company with strong family roots. And we are proud of it!


Van Hoecke

The Belgian family business Van Hoecke from Sint-Niklaas has been a partner for the furniture industry since 1967. As a distributor of hinges, lift systems and drawer systems of the Austrian brand Blum to kitchen and interior design specialists in the Benelux, it has been the market leader for years. In addition, they created their own brand of drawer dividers and kitchen tools with ORGALUX. Since 2014, Van Hoecke has been marketing its own, industrially manufactured, wooden drawer system under the brand TA'OR. With its own brands, Van Hoecke also looks beyond the borders of Benelux and already exports to Switzerland, France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Israel. Thanks to the commitment of over 280 enthusiastic employees and ongoing investments in technology and automation, the company is growing year after year.



Niko designs electrical solutions that make buildings work better for everyone who lives and works in them.
By consuming less energy, increasing lighting comfort and safety and by allowing all applications to work together seamlessly. Buildings with Niko are more efficient, can be controlled remotely and interact within larger ecosystems.

Niko is a Belgian family business based in Sint-Niklaas with 700 employees and 10 European branches.
At Niko, there is one question that occupies us every day: 'How can we make buildings work better for you?


Giel Dedeurwaerder & Brent Neve

In the collective design studio 'Utilise.objects' Brent Neve & Giel Dedeurwaerder join forces and combine their research, experiments and constructions with the purity of material and form.
To reach this goal, it's essential to balance utility with purity to guarantee a functional object or product.
In the designs of the collective design studio their common interest in history and evolution comes to the surface. They take their inspiration from Russian avant-garde artists, Japanese Philosophy and Danish ideology and experiment in their designs with different materials and proportions.

Studio PART

Studio - atelier PART is a conceptual studio and manufacturing atelier that looks at design, not as a single occupation, but as a woven whole in a world of plenty. In combining production with design, a bird's eye view of the desired result is obtained.

A collective of designers/makers who are very aware that every object, drawing or even concept is interlinked and has an effect on its surrounding environment, be it physical or emotional. Connecting with an object or space, it will last a lifetime and live on as a part of remembrance.

Because this world exists of parts, never one without another.


Esther Van Schuylenbergh

Esther Van Schuylenbergh is a textile designer who focuses on the development of woven textiles, both on the level of craft and high-tech industry. Through hands-on experimentation she explores the hidden potential of materials and techniques, resulting in tactile surfaces suitable for interior design applications. Her designs reflect her fascination for mathematical systems and architectural constructions. Despite their technical complexity, they have a clean, simple and timeless expression.