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Crikorama: Kyran Knauf’s cricket machine that reimagines protein consumption
Crikorama by Kyran Knauf
Image: Courtesy of Kyran Knauf

Crikorama: Kyran Knauf’s cricket machine that reimagines protein consumption

The Netherlands-based designer devises a tabletop cricket farm that allows users to harvest crickets as sustainable and eco-conscious sources of protein.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Jan 30, 2024

For aeons, humans have hunted animals for food and fur, in addition to using them for transportation and labour. Under this umbrella of human-animal relationships that have evolved and/or persevered through time, is entomophagy. Entomophagy—or the inclusion of edible insects in the diet—has a rich history in human culture; it has been a common practice in many cultures, especially in parts of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania. The practice originated from the high nutritional value of insects along with their abundance and easy accessibility. Following the onslaught of industrialisation, entomophagy declined in many parts of the world where it faced cultural and social stigmas. Can entomophagy be (re)introduced in contemporary diets as a sustainable food source? Crikorama by Kyran Knauf repackages this tradition in a modern frame—marking its resurgence in the west.

The Netherlands-based product designer aspires to make cricket farming mainstream in the modern day with his recently unveiled tabletop cricket farm, Crikorama. Designed for home use, the innovative design supports the entire lifecycle of crickets, making it easy for users to cultivate and harvest crickets in their own kitchens. The all-in-one machine is driven by the tenets of environmental consciousness—revolutionising global protein consumption while curbing the environmental impact. “The inspiration behind Crikorama comes from my design philosophy ‘buying independence’ and a passion for food and product design. It is a set of rules and a vision for developing products that promote independence in essential resources like water, energy, and food,” Knauf tells STIR.

Knauf is a French-German product designer working across product design, spatial design, VR footwear design and creative direction. He works in diverse regions including the Netherlands, France, Germany, United States and Costa Rica. His education journey has been a melting pot of delving into the circular economy, low/high-tech products, and speculative design, even spending a transformative semester at Art Center College of Design in LA. Currently, he is also a VR guest tutor at Design Academy Eindhoven. His design philosophy revolves around a concept he calls ‘buying independence’—living (semi) off the grid, which is necessary for geopolitical and sustainable reasons. "The future requires us to be more independent or semi-independent of the system. We have a responsibility to create products that positively impact the planet, and Crikorama reflects this philosophy by addressing challenges related to food,” he explains.

Crikorama provides an efficient and controlled environment for cricket farming, catering to nutritional needs through a continuous supply of insects. Users can feed the crickets with kitchen leftovers while the machine operates on a continuous cycle—making it easy to harvest and restart the cycle with the eggs laid by the previous generation. The machine can cater to the needs of different settings, suitable for use in home kitchens, restaurants, farms, and for educational purposes. “This project aligns with the need for increased independence, particularly in urban settings. The goal is to enable hyperlocal production at home, making it accessible and contributing to a sustainable future (farm to fork),” the designer notes.

The machine’s chassis encapsulates a fan for air filtration, a heat pad, and green LED lights to create optimal conditions for crickets. It is also equipped with a designated food and water dispenser. The egg pod serves as the incubation site for cricket eggs, which can be transferred to a new machine or reused within the same machine for another breeding cycle. Crikorama can be easily disassembled and placed in a dishwasher for convenient cleaning. “One significant challenge was understanding the behaviour of crickets. As living organisms, their needs and responses are complex. This required thorough research and observation to create an environment in which crickets thrive. The project involved a multidisciplinary approach, combining design, engineering, and biology,” Knauf elaborates.

The demand for meat is expected to double by 2050; traditional meat production proves unsustainable as it weighs immensely on vital resources like water, land, and energy. In the midst of this crisis, Crikorama proposes crickets as highly efficient solutions, employing only a fraction of these resources to produce a quality protein source. Driven by sustainability and hyper-awareness in design, Knauf epitomises his creative philosophies of independence, consumer education and innovation in the intriguing design.

Speaking about what is next for his practice, Knauf tells STIR, “Moving forward, my plans involve constantly innovating in product design and startups that have a substantial effect on both individuals and the environment. I aim to lead a movement of engineers, designers, and creators who share the shared objective of developing products that foster self-sufficiency and contribute to a sustainable future. The primary emphasis is on creating a community of individuals who are enthusiastic about constructing a purposeful and impactful future.”

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