Sustainable design considers the environmental, social, and economic impact of pieces and the practices that are used to create them. Social and economic sustainability can be addressed through the employment of local artisans and craftspeople, supporting communities through the continuation of traditional techniques, materials, and knowledges. In terms of environmental effects, the reuse, recycling, or upcycling of wastes is often at the foreground of theses discussions, with new methods and technologies developed to further innovate and increase efficacy. With increasing awareness of how their practices affect the earth, makers are turning to more sustainable methods and materials to develop their work.
The designers featured in this week’s Adorno edit have explored a range of sustainable approaches in their practices: from holistic resource use, to reuse of waste materials, to innovative heating methods. Drawing on an holistic view of materials, Angela Damman incorporates traditional artisanal knowledges and Espadín plant fiber into her designs, while Studio Plastique pays tribute to the diversity of forest resources. Designers Andreu Carulla, Agne Kucerenkaite, and Jonas Edvard highlight the possibilities of waste materials, with polystyrene, metal wastes, and composite dusts creating unique textures, hues, and patterns in their work. In a similar vein, design studio Hot Wire Extensions and designer duo Nina Mršnik and Nuša Jelenec transform waste materials – SLS 3D waste and everyday plastics, respectively – with the use of heat and electricity, creating new, collectible forms. Presented together, these pieces provide a glimpse into the future of sustainable design practices.
Andreu Carulla, Reuse of expanded and steam-injected polystyrene waste
“RR201” is a versatile stool made from expanded polystyrene waste from El Celler de Can Roca (World’s Best Restaurant, 2013 & 2015), a product of Roca Recicla, the restaurant’s zero waste platform. Each stool is made from exactly one day’s worth of waste from the restaurant (6 polystyrene transportation boxes) and is produced by way of a pioneering low-energy process engineered by the designer. This begins with cleaning the expanded polystyrene boxes, which are then shredded into raw material and compacted down in a mould using injected steam.
Agne Kucerenkaite, Reincorporating metal wastes as pigment for ceramics
“Ignorance is Bliss” is an ongoing project about reincorporating the value of metal waste by applying it as a pigment from industries such as drinking water supply and soil remediation companies into new valuable products and methods. The colors are retrieved purely by using pigments from waste. In this project, surprisingly, the more contaminated the raw material, the more vibrant the designed objects are.
Angela Damman, Harnessing existing plant fibre resources and traditional crafting methods
The “Kau” Chair is about “calling to attention” the nearly forgotten ancient crafts and the rapidly disappearing traditions of the Mayan communities of Yucatan. The structure of the chair is made of iron mesh, which creates the shape and interesting woven appearance. Physical patterns were made for the structure and mesh overlay. Over 2,000 “fur” like fringes – made from Espadín plant fiber – were hand-tied onto the iron mesh. The “Kau” Chair offers a sustainable example of how to harness existing resources.
Hot Wire Extensions, Recycling 3D printing waste via “hot wire” heating
Inspired by play and anthropomorphism, this handmade standing desk lamp from “Basic Knot” Collection is made using Hot Wire Extensions’ innovative manufacturing process using waste nylon powder and silica sand. The Switzerland-based studio uses a recycling conscious process, using the waste nylon powder from SLS 3D printing – a material that is currently not recycled – sand, nichrome wire, and electricity.
Jonas Edvard, Immortalising waste stream material through experimentation
The “Relic” Side Table & Lamp is made from a collection of different waste stream materials including wood, metal, and stone dust. As the material is molded in shape, a sudden and magical change in the color of the surface appears – creating a detailed and black dotted pattern along the surface of the object. The “Relic” project contains objects which refer to a substrate of shape from which the material has changed – merging the material elements into a new physical order and function.
Nina Mršnik & Nuša Jelenec, Recycling waste plastics via “toasting” method
“Toasted Furniture” is a project that combines innovation, design, and ecology. Everyday waste plastics (for example, the packaging of cleaning products) is recycled with the help of an innovative and simple device, “the toaster”, to obtain durable waterproof plastic panels, which are the basis for the manufacture of furniture. All products can also be ‘re-melted’ into new plastic sheets, as they are made of only one type of material (HDPE- high density polyethylene), or disassembled and assembled into a new product.
Studio Plastique, Holistic resource use utilising pine and pine resin
The collection of boxes for the “Out of the Woods” project result from a holistic approach to the way we use resources from the forest, paying tribute to the properties and beauty of alternative resources from the forest. The boxes play with constructive proportions for the different forest resources used in its multiple surfaces: wooden details and resin-based material surfaces of diverse composition. For this series, Studio Plastique uses only pine resin – a 100% natural and degradable binding material.