Gabe Tavas: From Kombucha to Sustainable Wood Alternatives

Join host Ian Peterman on Conscious Design as he welcomes Gabe Tavas, the innovative mind behind Symmetry Wood. In this episode, Gabe shares the fascinating origin story of his company, which uses bacteria to produce cellulose for creating wood-like products. This journey starts from Gabe’s eye-opening experiences in Ecuador and leads to groundbreaking research in his college dorm room, where he began experimenting with kombucha cultures to produce bacterial cellulose.

Gabe discusses the challenges and triumphs of developing Symmetry Wood, from initial rough samples to winning the prestigious James Dyson Award. The conversation delves into how Symmetry Wood is tackling environmental issues with its sustainable material production, aiming to replace precious tropical hardwoods in various applications, from musical instruments to car interiors. This episode is a deep dive into the intersection of industrial design, sustainability, and innovative material science.

Learn about the potential of bacterial cellulose in replacing traditional hardwoods, the importance of sustainability in material design, and how Symmetry Wood is shaping the future of eco-friendly product development. For anyone interested in sustainable design, environmental entrepreneurship, and cutting-edge material science, this episode provides a unique perspective and inspiring insights.

Notable Moments:

  • 00:40 – Gabe Tavas Shares His Origin Story and Environmental Inspiration
  • 02:40 – Discovery of Bacterial Cellulose for Sustainable Materials
  • 09:05 – Replacing Precious Woods: Symmetry Wood’s Mission
  • 11:25 – Impact of Illegal Logging and Environmental Damage
  • 12:29 – Density and Future Possibilities of Bacterial Cellulose
  • 18:27 – Exploring Applications of Pyrrhus Material
  • 22:44 – Innovations in Algae Waste Composite Boards
  • 23:31 – Bacterial Cellulose vs. Mycelium Packaging: A Comparison
  • 24:41 – Future Developments in Cellulose Technology

About Gabe Tavas:

Gabe Tavas is a biodesigner, explorer, and social entrepreneur from Chicago whose purpose in life is to empower and guide other sustainability-minded makers to protect their cultural and natural resources. He serves as the CEO of Symmetry Wood, a startup that creates wood from bacteria without cutting down trees to combat deforestation, and has a broad focus on wood conservation, food biodiversity, and river restoration.

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We created this content so creative entrepreneurs like you can integrate social and environmental responsibility into your brand’s DNA through Conscious Design. Ian Peterman, a leading expert in Conscious Design, hosts the Conscious Design podcast and is the co-author of the book Conscious Design.

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Hosted by: Ian Peterman, CEO and founder of the Peterman Design Firm

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