Design Switzerland is initiated by Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council.

Wormup – The Fine Art of Composting, powered by worms

WormUp HOME © Claude Gasser

WormUp in London:

In Switzerland over 500’000 t of waste are thrown away, burnt and therefore valuable resources destroyed. According to this homepage, we can say that alone in London about the same amount is produced in only one city! Cool solutions definitely needed. We are there to show how it can be done in a fun and practical way! Is London ready?

London designjunction
Bargehouse & Oxo Tower Wharf, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London SE1 9PH
20 and 21 September:
11:00 – 20:00

WormUp Academy
21 September at 15:30
At Design Switzerland booth, at London designjunction

WormUp has set itself the ambitious goal to prevent any biogenic household waste from ending up in the traditional garbage where valuable nutrients are lost in incineration plants or cause methane emissions in landfills.

About WormUp

In autumn 2013, two students, Nikolai Räber and Dennis Froesch, see a documentary about an American who keeps a compost heap inside his apartment with the help of worms. The students think every city apartment should have one. However, it must look nice, otherwise no one will be interested in it. Räber contacts his old school friend Luiz Schumacher, an industrial designer, to ask him what he thinks would be possible from a visual design perspective. Schumacher hears the words ‘worms’ and ‘compost’ and thinks of a longstanding friend, Erich Fässler.

Erich Fässler moves from Adliswil to Zurich; it’s spring 2004 and pretty soon he misses the compost heap at his parents’ house. He starts looking for a solution and finds out there are 42 native species of worm, of which three are suitable for making compost. He chooses a worm species called Eisenia fetida and orders 1,000 worms online. From then on, he keeps a crate filled with worms on his balcony and feeds them his food waste. He quickly notices that the worms like to eat, enjoy living in a very small space and also use bacteria, so the compost does not generate any smells. The worms also produce a natural fertilizer, which Fässler uses to grow tomato plants. Fässler believes that his balcony composter has market potential, but he has too many other things to do to pursue the idea. That is when Schumacher gets in touch and tells him about  his friend’s idea. The four men get together to start working on their worm business. Swiss TV hears about them and they appear on a show called Einstein.

Sarah Steiner quits her job at Unilever in July 2013 and embarks for a trip through Asia, where she finds a children’s book about a wormery in a library in Thailand. She thinks this could be the solution for all those city apartments that have no access to a garden. After arriving home, she tells her father about her idea and he replies that he just saw the Einstein show on TV featuring the four men and their worms. Steiner sits down and writes a job application.

The WormUp team is then complete with Erich, Sarah, Nikolai, Luiz and continues to grow since.  They launch a crowdfunding campaign in 2016 which resulted in the sale of 300 composters in 10 days, their first product, the WormUp HOME.  Their latest release is the WormUp SCALE, which allows composting in large quantities, ideal for multi-apartment communities, schools or restaurants.

About Wormcomposting

Worm-composting is a highly effective low-tech way (proof of concept of 400mil. years of evolution) to recycle organic matter in a small space with the big advantage that no unpleasant odors occur. With these benefits the process allows closing natural cycles in urban settings where space is limited. The use of WormUp composting systems impact the climate positively compared to conventional waste disposal or even the “green-bin” disposal. Reduction of GHG emissions is reached due to less transportation of waste and reduced methane gas emissions caused by organic materials in landfills. Further the usage of synthetic fertilizers can be stopped and replaced by the usage of worm-cast, which is one of the most effectual organic fertilizers. Additionally to their waste recycling function WormUp systems are ideal educational tools to sensitize society and the next generation towards a responsible and ethical behavior in terms of consumption patterns, creating awareness for natural cycles.



Upcoming maintenance work

The application portal myprohelvetia will be updated from 1.1.-7.1.2024. Due to these changes, open applications must be finalized and submitted via the current online portal ( by the latest 23:59 on 31 December 2023. Until this date, the deadlines and criteria outlined in the current guidelines and calls for applications apply. New applications can be created and submitted in the application portal as of 8 January 2024.