It’s the most talked-about material in the media this year and the Plastic (R)evolution is front of mind right now for designers too. Clever experiments taking waste as a raw source for aesthetic explorations result in visceral or confetti-like pieces that communicate the material’s inherent properties and propel the conversation.
Plastic creates problems but also amazing opportunities from an aesthetic point of view.
British brand &New presented the chunky Waste Not Bench, which can be used indoors and outside. Its modular seating blocks are all made completely from recycled plastic and connected with red steel bars.
Charlotte Kidger investigated how she could find a second life for plastic waste generate by CNC cutting of polyurethane. She succeeded by turning the plastic dust into a composite that can be moulded into objects. These side tables show off the various patterns that can be achieved with this new material.
Japanes designer Kodai Iwamoto applied the ancient technique of glass blowing to mundane PVS tubes found in a DIY shop, creating a series of vases in classic shapes.
Young brand ecoBirdy transforms discarded plastic toys into a material with a confetti-like apperance that they mould into fun kids furniture.
Italian company ecopixel collects industrial plastic trash and upcycles it into colourful panels that can be used for furniture or bespoke joinery. Designer Alessandro Mendini used the material for the Alex Lounge Chair.
Smile Plastics is ahead of their times: the company started recycling plastic waste 30 years ago, turning recovered plastic into sheets for interior design projects. With their new Ocean range, they created a tactile surface which is a bit rougher than their earlier products and a portion of this material is recovered from the seas.
Image: Smile Plastics
British brand Weez & Merl has specialised on recycling low density polyethylene which typically used in carrier bags, bubble wrap and film packaging. They make the most of the materia's potential to remelt and repurpose it over and over, turning into a solid material that's been moulded and sanded so it can be used, for example, as a table top.
Image: Weez & Merl
The Changing Vase is a design by Belgian designer Dirk Vander Kooij for which he melts synthetic waste, creating vessels in a slightly deranged shape with a horizontal ribbed texture.
Image: Dirk Vander Kooij
Studio Ilio created a new composite material using sand and a nylon powder which is a waste product from a 3D printing process. They used the material to create a series of chairs, using a heated nichrome wire which melts the powder so it ultimately turns into a solid mass after it has cooled off.
Image: H.R.Rohrer for Studio Ilio
Emerging designer Kim Markel created the pink Glow chair using reclaimed plastics including soda bottles, lunch trays, and eyeglasses. These were melted and poured into a handmade mould, resulting in a translucent material that has been sanded and polished.
Image: Kim Markel