With Covid 19 and lockdown, comes less air pollution, more evidence of wildlife and birds, less cars on the roads and planes in the sky. This has made many of us think about how we want to live in the future. To be honest it was already happening. The horrors of plastic pollution in our seas shown to us by David Attenborough may have been the catalyst for many designers trying to solve pollution problems.
Designers are using yesterday’s waste as today’s raw materials. This includes ocean waste, such as old fishing nets. Glass, plastic bottles and fashion industry offcuts and recycled cotton are all being repurposed.
Using recycled materials isn’t necessarily going to be the cheapest of solutions as the processes involved are time consuming and expensive. There is the perception to overcome, that recycling is a bit cheap, folksy and not well made or designed. The examples here prove otherwise
We start with some beautiful designs that are sold in one of our favourite design emporiums, Heals, Ocean Bistro was originally created in 1955 designed by the Danish designer Nanna Ditzel. The twenty first century Ocean Chair offers a sustainable alternative to traditional outdoors furniture. Each piece in the Ocean Bistro collection is crafted using recycled fishing nets and recycled hard plastics found in the oceans. The ocean chair designed by Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel for Mater comes in green and black. It won a Wallpaper* design award in 2019.
Designed by Japanese studio Nendo for Fritz Hansen, the No2 Recycle chair has a shell crafted using plastic waste that is collected, processed and upcycled in central Europe.
One of the benefits of this chair is that it can be recycled in the future. The simple design was inspired by a piece of paper with a crease in it. The shell sits on a chromed steel base.
Rug makers Ferm Living were so fed up with seeing images of plastic, washing up on shores and turning into mountains of trash that they decided to do something to try and help the situation. With the help of specialised technology, they have created a series of textiles made entirely from used plastic bottles. It takes 292 Plastic drinks bottles to make one rug. Home textiles including rugs, cushions and mats made from plastic do not sound soft and inviting, but they do feel soft to the touch. The ‘Way’ series is practical easily cleaned and suitable for outdoor use.
Turning plastic bottles into yarn, from which you can weave a series like ‘Way’, has five steps: Collecting bottles, crushing and compressing them, converting into small chips, processing the chips in carding machines, and finally, you have a material you can spin into yarns.
This chair echoes the mantra of a democratic and intuitive industrial design where form, function, price, quality and sustainability come together in a product.
‘A few years ago, Ikea wanted to work with logistics in a more sustainable way and set up a production line for euro pallets in wood plastic. The choice of material turned out to less successful for the pallets, but instead, the material became the starting point for Odger chair. A mistake turned into something very good,’ Åsa Hedeberg, Senior Product developer at Ikea, explains.
Designers John Löfgren and Jonas Pettersson say on the IKEA web site
“When we designed ODGER chair we were inspired by both ski boots and pie dishes with removable bottoms. The reason was that we wanted to find a way to quickly and easily fix the legs to the seat and backrest. In the end, the solution was a simple click mechanism.
Another innovation is that the material is a mix of renewable wood and recycled plastic. The result is a chair with true, clean lines ‒ which is also very comfortable to sit on thanks to the bowl-shaped seat and the rounded backrest.”
Designers Guild have created an innovative 100% recycled fabric called Tejo – woven in Italy from yarns recycled from the fashion industry. This smart small-scale textured weave has a mid-century contemporary feel. It comes in ten different colours for upholstery and interior applications. The fabric is used on Heals best selling Mistral Sofa
Designer Philippe Starck used artificial intelligence to create a robust and minamilist chair called AI Chair, sold in Heals, made from using recycled plastic. It comes in white, black, green orange or grey. So there you have it, sophisticated furniture that belies its humble origins.