Material of the Year: Plastic, Beyond the Chipper

Returning for 2018, Material of the Year places the spotlight on a material currently holding precedence in the design world. Not one to shy away from a conversation, for 2018 the London Design Fair will be exploring this year’s most loathed material: plastic. 


Truly the material of the modern world, plastic has proved revolutionary to the way in which we live, by allowing for lighter, thinner, more durable and at times more beautiful objects. From wafer-thin computer hardware to vital advances in medical tools, plastic has proved a material hero in many ways. Although it screams innovation, technology and ease, it is one that rings of disposability and a throw-away consumer culture. It’s no secret that single-use plastic forms a real environmental threat, so for the 2018 edition of Material of the Year, we have cast an eye on the design industry to see how the material is being repurposed in imaginative and valuable ways.

A welcome step forward from the many bright and brash examples of plastic recycling, we have hand selected four designers who are demonstrating a determined and refined approach to working in recycled plastic. Looking beyond the chipper, the four examples from across the globe are adding real value and desirability through design treating gathered waste as a new virgin material. From industrial waste to plastic bags, the designers are melting, turning, printing and forming the material to imbue new worth and meaning.

 

Charlotte Kidger - Industrial Craft
A recent graduate from Central Saint Martins’ MA Material Futures, Charlotte Kidger is a material designer seeking to develop ways of reevaluating and reengineering waste substances to create new sustainable materials. She is currently investigating the possibilities of polyurethane foam dust – a waste plastic from CNC fabrication processes – which can be cold-cast to create a versatile composite that can form the base material for 3D sculptural and functional objects. Having created a range of colourful pots and vessels from the composite, she is in the process of upscaling the technique to create a table to exhibit at London Design Fair.

Material of the Year: Plastic Charlotte Kidger

 

Kodai Iwamoto - Plastic Blowing
Born in Kagoshima, Japan and now based in Tokyo, Kodai Iwamoto is a product designer with an interest in exploring the junction between traditional craft processes and mass-produced materials. By bringing the methods of glassblowing to the kind of cheap PVC pipes generally used in plumbing, Iwamoto produces a range of vessels, which can vary in form depending on the shape of the wooden mould, the air pressure applied and the speed at which the pipe surface is heated. The result is a collection of beautiful hand-made objects that give new life to mass-produced plastics.

Material of the Year Plastic Kodai Iwamoto

 

Weez & Merl
Founded in 2015, Weez & Merl are a Brighton-based studio set up by Louise and Madelaine Thilley. Working with Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE) salvaged in Brighton, a material used to manufacture everyday plastic disposables such a plastic bags, the duo melt, and press the material to create durable, flat surfaces, with a unique finish reminiscent of marble. This September they will be showcasing, for the first time, a feature wall comprised of tesselating tiles, alongside their recycled LDPE table and a collection of lighting.

 

Dirk Vander Kooij
Since his time studying at Design Academy Eindhoven, Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij has been exploring ways of creating 3D-printed furniture and other interior items made with reclaimed synthetic. Using a machine extruder of his own design, he transforms polycarbonate objects such as CDs and chocolate moulds into ribbons of molten plastic that can then be layered and shaped to create uniquely textured products, reinventing plastic as something durable and precious

Material of the Year Plastic Dirk Vander Kooij

 

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