Kingdom: Animale.


“When life gives you mitten crabs, make bioplastic.

The Chinese mitten crab, an invasive species from East Asia, gets its name because it looks like it’s wearing a pair of furry mittens on its claws. But it’s not so cute. The crab negatively impacts native wildlife in Europe and the U.S., where it’s labeled an “injurious species.”

London-based industrial designer Jeongwon Ji has come up with a practical solution to combat the crustaceous invaders. She crunches up their shells and makes a biodegradable plastic she calls “crustic.” The material is made of red algae, glycerine, water and chitin, a long chain polymer that makes the shells hard.

Ji has incorporated crustic in a series of electronic enclosures, formed on wooden molds. She calls the series BioElectric.

“Although production time is longer, this nontoxic process can improve the work life of those who manufacture our electronics,” she says.

The finished product has a pebbled, coarse texture that evokes its natural origins.” (Ji, 2013)

Material Qualities

Kingdom Attributes

  • Unique
  • Irregular
  • Surprising
  • Crafted

Specific Material Attributes

  • Uncomfortable
  • Honest
  • Resistant
  • Curly
  • Disorganized
  • Interlaced

Basic Ingredients

  • Mitten Crab.
  • Red algae
  • Glycerin
  • Water
  • Chitin


Jeongwon Ji

Royal College of Art


Images property of the material owners.

-Ji, J. (2013) BioElectric. Retrieved from