A Drive For Seaweed

A Drive For Seaweed' by Ruth Kluckers

The taking and giving of land and sea

European designer Ruth Kluckers is a recent graduate from the Design Academy Eindhoven. A vegetarian since she was 6, she used spend time on organic farms as a child where she learnt early on about food. While studying in the Man and Food Department she did her internship at the Cornish Seaweed Company in the UK, where she lived in a friend's van. This became her main inspiration for her ongoing project 'A Drive For Seaweed'.

What is ‘A Drive For Seaweed’ and how did it start out? 

With A Drive For Seaweed I am proposing an alternative living environment that allows me to adapt my personal rhythm to my food source – the seaweed itself. The living environment I slowly created on the back of a truck gives me the chance to harvest, process and cook the seaweed on the spot. Furthermore, it invites people to come and try the hand harvested seaweeds. The displayed objects carry seaweed related stories and it all evolved out of a post speculative design practice.

What is it about seaweed that captured you? 

Plentiful in the wild, eco-friendly and highly nutritious, seaweed has been used by man since our earliest history. Especially at this time in Europe it is time to open our eyes again to the potential of this rich natural and alternative resource. My personal fascination about seaweed lays within its habitat. The intertidal range and the endless process of the tidal movement. Taking and giving of land and sea. This very specific place is where the seaweed grows and where people have to adapt their rhythm in order to harvest it. While working with the Cornish Seaweed Company I was able to learn professionally about sustainable harvesting methods and all the fascinating facts about seaweed. 

Graduating from the Man And Food Department at the Design Academy Eindhoven was where I explored seaweed more creatively, researching its history and the way it relates to our food culture and where I started designing seaweed related objects like a moon harvesting calendar for example. 

Can you tell us more about the moon harvesting calendar?

We are always aiming for a very low tide to reach most of the seaweed species while harvesting. With full and new moon, gravity is strongest and the low tides get extremely low which then creates the rhythm we harvest: one week on one week off roughly.

There are species like Sea Spaghetti for example which grow further away from the shore and are often still covered with water during a low tide. For this species it is best to free dive and cut under water with scissors. 

We understand you also give seaweed workshops?

The workshop as an introduction to the world of wild edible seaweed: When the tide is low we will walk out and you can learn how to forage and identify organic and edible cornish seaweed that grows around the historical headland of Pendennis Point in Falmouth.

After hand picking our produce we take it to my purpose built seaweed van where we can prepare, cook and eat together with a stunning view over the source of our food: the ocean.

The next workshops in Falmouth during Fal River Festival:

Thu, 30th May 8.45h-11.45h

Fri, 31st May 09.15h – 12.15h

Sat, 1st June 10.00h- 13.00h

Sun, 2nd June 10.30h- 13.30h

The truck will also be at Down The Rabbit Hole Festival this summer and it will be open for information and twice a day there will be a ‘Seaweed Starters‘ workshop where again I introduce people to world of edible seaweed and together we prepare little starters like seaweed pesto, hummus and crispy seaweed for people to try and get an idea about a European seaweed  food culture. 

The easiest way to process seaweed is simply to dry it out under the sunlight and it makes itself last for a couple of years when stored cool, dry and dark. Furthermore I am experimenting with pickling and salting seaweed to conserve it.

Where are you now with your van and what future travels are you planning?

Right now I just got back from a two months trip through Italy, Greece, Albania Montenegro, Croatia, Serbia and Austria. Down there you find mainly Sea grass which people use for example as fertiliser on their land or to stuff mattresses. In Denmark Sea grass is historically even used for roofing. 

Living this nomadic seaweed van lifestyle it was just nice to get a bit away from winter to be honest. My next stop will be Normandy and hopefully Brittany before taking the boat back to England. Northern France is one of the few places that has a seaweed history in their culture and I am looking forward to explore it.


Read more about Ruth and A Drive For Seaweed on Instagram.