Every year at the beginning of September the London Design Festival takes over London. The umbrella name encompasses a whole host of events exhibitions, collaborations, open studios, artists in residence and trade fairs (100% Design, Decorex, DesignJunction, London Design Fair included) open to both business & the public. We managed to attend a number of trade fairs this season and found them all very inspiring and thought-provoking.
London Design Fair was the most thought proving of all and we were intrigued to see how the Material of the Year ‘Plastic’ had been tackled. Plastic is in the forefront of most of our minds dues to programs such as Blue Planet II, Social media campaigns and the news. The exhibition ‘Beyond the Chipper’ put on at the London Design Fair examines how we rethink and reuse plastic by showcasing and celebrating the designers who are tackling this pariah material head on. The exhibition explores designers who are pioneering new techniques to use this material in a environmentally sound way, or by pioneering new recycling techniques that reduce and reverse the negative impact plastic is having on our environment. We have selected a couple of the designers whose work stood out.
Firstly we loved the new work presented by Weez & Merl a Brighton based studio recently set up in 2015 to reduce the amount of plastic going into landfill. The studio specialises in finding new uses for Low-Denisty Polyethylene (LDPE) usually found in carrier bags and bubble wrap. Weez & Merl have been able to develop a method of recycling LDPE into a durable marble-effect material. The studio presented a range of products at the fair including their first fully recycled LDPE table, translucent tiles, and lighting. They were able to produce and exhibit their designs by sourcing waste plastic only from the business in Brighton & Hove where they are based. Check out more of their work here!
I have to say, we were a little shocked when we found out ’Vessels’ were made from cheap PVC pipes you normally find for sale in your local plumbing merchants. They were designed by Kodai Iwamoto, a product designer from Japan who explores the relationship between traditional craft and mass-produced materials. He was able to create these vessels by using glassblowing methods on the PVC pipes. He is able to manipulate the pipes by changing the shape of the wooden mould, air pressure and speed heat is applied. Beautiful hand-made objects made from a mundane mass produced plastic – what’s not to love?!
With the government announcing their intention to begin legislation on firstly reducing the use of single-use plastic such as straws, drink stirrers and plastic stemmed cotton buds we all need to consider how we use, reuse, recycle this undesirable material now and in the future.