Cradle to Cradle – tresta® by Katharina Hölz

No, they don’t love him. He’s a nuisance. Residual mass, leftover, waste. But it has to go somewhere, the unloved pomace.

What is left after the grapes have been pressed. You, the winemaker, could use it to distill the schnapps of the same name. But people can’t drink that much to be able to use all the marc to a high percentage. In Germany alone, 200,000 tonnes of grape press residues are produced every year. So the winemakers dispose of their seeds, stems and shells. Preferably in your own vineyard. Doesn’t really help, but it doesn’t do any harm either.

Katharina Hölz had a better idea. She studied communication design at the University of Trier . As part of her master’s project, she researched sustainable resources, specifically regional resources that are not needed and are a dime a dozen. And that in the literal sense: She had read that designers from the coastal city of Shanghai make stools out of sand. Why should something similar not be possible in your home region! After all, there is enough pomace on the Moselle. What followed was an intense search. Because in order for pomace to be turned into a processable material, a composite is required. And it wasn’t that easy to find. It began months of labor and testing in the cellar at home.

“We should start thinking in closed cycles – there is no waste, only biomass that needs to be used. That is why it was my aim to develop new materials and products that are naturally renewable and biodegradable.“ Katharina Hölz

It was important to her that the binding agent was also of natural origin and biodegradable. In numerous experiments, four materials emerged that harmonize independently of one another with pomace: beeswax, carnauba wax, newspaper pulp and bioplastic. All of these connections are named tresta®. Katharina Hölz ​​developed several products with these composite materials. For example a lamp and a wine cooler which, when placed one on top of the other, create the shape of a typical Moselle flail bottle. Or wall tiles that reproduce the relief of the Terrace Moselle in an abstract form – an eye-catcher not only in wine bars. She also created organic packaging from tresta®. The waiter’s knife for opening wine bottles finds its place in a “wine-containing” box. In this way, the apparently worthless pomace turned into objects of value. These are also convincing from an aesthetic point of view. This is confirmed to Katharina Hölz ​​by juries of renowned design competitions. Since completing her master’s project in the summer of 2017, she has been able to collect prizes in series. So she was Red Dot Award Winner 2018 for Product Design, was German Design Award Nominee 2018 Special recognition from the Lucky Strike Junior Designer Award and won the Design Prize of the State of Rhineland-Palatinate in the category “Product Design Design Talents / Design Studies & amp; Research”. Most recently, in spring 2020, it prevailed in the material segment of the Green Product Awards against international submissions from 25 nations. Of course, the press also became aware of them. Several articles appeared, and as a result Katharina Hölz ​​received a series of inquiries as to where the pomace products could be bought.

In view of such a response, she thought of launching tresta® on the market. This is where the Frankfurt agency for food packaging, MILK., Comes into play. Its founder and managing director, Andreas Milk, sees his company as an “innovation lab”, i.e. as a place where future-oriented ideas can be tried out. When the newly minted master’s graduate applied for a job as a packaging designer in his agency in autumn 2017, it was clear to him that she would be a perfect fit for the team. In addition, Andreas Milk recognized the potential that was in tresta®. So there was no question for him to enable his new employee to advance her project alongside her job. In practice, Katharina Hölz ​​works for the agency four days a week. She uses the fifth working day to get her products ready for the market, to create prototypes, to conduct acquisitions, to negotiate with interested specialist dealers, winemakers and restaurateurs and to create the conditions for the tresta® launch to be a success.