Zero Waste Bistro, designed by Linda Bergroth, embraces the concept and challenges of circular economy in the form of a fully-working pop-up café constructed for NYCxDesign. The freestanding installation, which functioned as a dining area as well as a platform for workshops and talks, was commissioned by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York.

Made entirely from upcycled and recyclable materials, the temporary pavilion occupied an elongated gallery space which, together with its striking materiality, made for an immersive spatial experience likened by the designer to a ‘three-dimensional expression of white noise’. The architecture of the space – floor, walls and ceiling – were formed by panels made out of recycled industrial Tetra Pak waste. The acoustically-sound material was produced in the United States, in order to avoid unnecessary transport costs. The design also highlights the use of long-lasting Finnish design classics – such as Alvar Aalto’s stools – as a sustainable choice.

Top: Materials and patterns helped create an enticing trompe-l'œil effect in the tunnel-like space, offerening an intimate dining experience in a unique temporary setting. | Middle: The common table, also designed by Bergroth, was made in Durat’s new Palace composite collection, created by Dutch studio Most Collective, who used recycled plastic and natural pigments. | Bottom: The project’s holistic approach to sustainability encompassed both the design and food concepts.

The food concept was based on an initiative by three chefs from Helsinki-based restaurant Nolla, who developed an innovative, locally-sourced menu using overlooked byproducts of our food system – all supplied without packaging. Using food as a means to trigger conversation, the pavilion encouraged design professionals, environmentalists and foodies alike to engage in meaningful discussions. After the festival, everything from the bistro was reused, donated or recycled, showing that even a four-day temporary installation can be sustainable.

This project was featured in the latest volume of our hospitality-design series, Night Fever 6. Get your copy here.