Adobe Sustainable Design of the Year Winner Bee Loop Kicks the Plastic Bear to the Curb
by Bill McCool on 05/27/2021 | 5 Minute Read
For most of designer Aurimas Kadzevicius’s childhood, much of his father’s conversation around the dinner table revolved around bees—he talked about their pollinating plants and how important they are to the environment, but also how they lived, sprinkled with some bee philosophy concerning how much humans could really learn from them. After all, pollinators like bees have an immense effect on 35% of the world’s crop production.
“Everything is bees,” jokes Aurimas.
Aurimas’s family is from a small village in Lithuania (“His village looks like a fairytale,” says his translator of Naujas Strunaitis during our interview), and his father is a farmer and a beekeeper who tends to around 100 bee families.
Of course, Aurimas is also allergic to bees, and he’s lucky that his mother works in a local hospital, as the two occasions when he was stung resulted in him blowing up like the Michelin Man. But that hasn't stopped him from staying involved with his father's small business, as he also happens to be Aurimas’s client. And, as a client, he might even be impressed as his son just snagged the Adobe Sustainable Design of the Year from Dieline Awards for his work.
Wanting to create an entirely closed-loop packaging system, Aurimas developed the packaging for his father’s locally-grown honey. Dubbed Bee Loop, the honey pot gets made from beeswax, and it’s recyclable, renewable, biodegradable, organic, antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and antibacterial. And if that weren’t enough, it’s even edible. The packaging only consists of two materials—beeswax and a thin piece of organic linen used to open the vessel itself.
The idea first came to him three years ago. He knew he wanted to create something that existed in a closed loop—that was critical to the project because it was an ethos instilled in him by his father. It was an “ashes to ashes” project, according to Aurimas. “The honey feels better in wax,” he says. “It’s at home.”
And so he tinkered and talked about the project, handcrafting more than 20 different honey pots before he landed on the packaging. “When I create something, I want to create something you can’t find in the world,” he admits.
Taking influence and a few tips from his friend and ceramic artist Simona Kaunaite, Aurimas settled on a minimal pot for the honey, initially using a plaster model to land on the form—“I’m not a sculptor,” he jokes. The finished product is simple, natural, and even primitive, yet it still has a refined, modern look. But he also wanted to keep the pot label-free, so instead of wrapping it with multiple stickers and paper with messages about how it’s anti-this-or-that, he used a hot stamp to brand the wax with the logo, keeping the packaging utterly uncomplicated and elegant.
When you’re done with it, you return to the honey pot to Bee Loop, but if that’s not in the cards, not to worry, as it will biodegrade naturally. Or more poetically, as Aurimas puts it, “When the beekeeper returns beeswax to the hive, the circle of honey making continues. Or as we, the beekeepers, like to call it, the Bee Loop.”
The win is a special one for Aurimas. “This is the first project that came from my heart,” he admits. “It didn’t come from the client. This wasn’t for money. It came from my family. This is knowledge my father gave me.”
And that’s knowledge which Aurimas believes can have an immense impact, even when it comes from such a seemingly small corner of the world. He believes that design can bring about meaningful change in the world, because he’s providing creatives with a roadmap as to how they can imagine beautiful products that don’t actively harm the environment by giving consumers another piece of packaging that they don’t actually need—in this case, a plastic bear-shaped bottle, no matter how adorable that bear is.
Secondly, the project is significant because it shows younger designers in his native Lithuania that good design doesn’t just come from the likes of New York City, London, or any other massive design firm. Innovation and environmentally-friendly design can start at home, and it’s about challenging yourself to create these solutions. You don't need the backing of a globally recognized brand because, frankly, they're still packaging many of their products in unsustainable materials, no matter how many times they tell you they’re working on it, and, oh, you’ll see the fruits of those labors by 2030.
“Our planet needs it today as much as possible,” he says.
“We’re big fans of sustainability and ecological movements. We need to teach that we should think about zero-waste and endless loops. That’s the way we save our planet.”
Photos by: Marius Linauskas and Kernius Pauliukonis.