Plastic. Remaking Our World
Research for the Plastic:Remaking Our World Exhibiton and book through curator Anniina Koivu.
Investigating topics on the sustainability of plastics including;
Plastics relationship with oil,
The history of plastic,
Plastics recycling - mechanical and chemical,
Plastic: Remaking Our World exhibition is by Vitra Design Museum, MAAT, and the Victoria and Albert Dundee Museums.
Currently exhibited: Vitra Design Museum 25 March – 4 September 2022.
Anniina Koivu, Vitra Design Museum, VandA Dundee, MAAT Lisbon
© Vitra Design Museum Photo: Bettina Matthiessen
By conventional recycling, objects arrive at facilities as unknown entities, with no communication of ingredients, they are fed into shredders smashing objects to smaller pieces which are then attempted to be identified and sorted by countless, painstaking steps. Infinite variations in the composition of objects make it impossible to identify exactly which materials are involved, especially in plastics where sub-variants and full colour spectra exist. This inaccuracy of separation results in recycled material of the poorest quality, unable to compete with virgin materials.
Shoes are standardly not recyclable, even by shredding, containing too many materials glued together. Recyclable shoe projects are starting to be released, all focusing on mono-materialisation for use with standard shredding recycling facilities. Their uniform material and colour allow for verifiable material output during shredding. Whilst this route and the projects are inspiring, shoes gain a lot of their function and durability from being multi-material assemblies, features which can be downgraded by mono-materialisation.
Instead, RUEI-01 utilises the use of new, contemporary tools for recycling. It is designed to be multi-material and recyclable with complete accuracy by use of robotics. All the object information is digitally embedded into it by design, including robotic g.code instructions and exact material information, even down to colour codes and factory sources. This allows robots to ‘unmanufacture’ the multi-material shoe, disassembling and separating materials with complete accuracy and providing all the necessary material information to be able to create recycled material of true accuracy.
Creating materials that are of high enough quality to compete with new materials not only reduces the growing amounts of waste and pollution associated with waste disposal, but also prevents the devastating impact on the planet associated with the extraction and production of new materials - especially plastics derived from crude oil.
Project developing out of 'FRACTIONS' research.
ECAL /Maxwell Ashford, with support of ABB.
Joanna Wierzbicka, Ilan Dubi, Alessandro Simone, Ewa Awe
Graphic Design [labels]:
Eye's on Talent,
James Dyson Award, Finalist
Washing Machine 01
Designed somewhat as a case study resulting from my FRACTIONS research project, washing machine 01 is a clothes washer designed also for functionality for end-of-life recycling.
It applies findings from interviews, facility visits and other research of how we currently recycle 'white goods' directly into the design, aspects which a lot of the time alter the objects visuals.
Washing Machine 01 is intended to be a low price category machine (500 - 600 CHF), is available in 4 colours and applies a more minimal rational decision making to the design. It features;
No glass in the door -
Glass gets smashed down to dust during the shredding stage of recycling which contaminates other materials.
No Concrete counterweights - For the same reason as the glass.
No screen - instead a simple interface allows selection of washes, and where a screen is needed smart connectivity enables on mobile device control.
Exposed construction - Clear bolt heads and split lines allow easy access to remove components for recycling, but also repairs.
ECAL / Maxwell Ashford
A research project investigating recycling, the realities of today's processes, what are the current innovations and future.
A reasearch spanning 6 months involving numerous facility visits, paper and legisaltiaosn reviews, interviews with recyclers, engineers, designers, producers and stake holders.
The overall project highlighted the innefficiencies of current systems and raised the overall question of whether objects can relevant if they do not address sustainability.
The research is formulated into a scrapbook, visual and written essays and and theories applied to my own practise, most notably for the design of Washing Machine 01 - which directly applied findings to an object outcome.
Practise / Maxwell Ashford
Plywood School Chair
A chair based around reintroducing natural materials into schools where seating furniture has become dominated by plastic and steel.
The use of European birch plywood results in a drastic carbon foot print improvement over the typical steel framed or mono-block plastic chairs, whilst maintaining a level of efficeincy required for producing cost effective seating.
The stackable design is made up of components which nest efficiently on the veneers pre-forming, saving waste.
[LCA information from Idemat 2020].
Ecal x Flokk, Maxwel Ashford
Is it relevant for us to still be producing some goods as we have been for years given the health of our planet?
Bamana is a response to this line of thinking about party balloons, with what an alternative object could be. Balloons are one of the top ten single use plastics found in our oceans (by European bodies), whilst being deadly to birds and sea life.
Extensive research lead to the decision that creating an alternative object which fulfils similar positive aspects of balloons would be more effective than a direct alternative. The balloon producer lobbying power is surprisingly strong within the market which is littered with green washing. Genuine attempts get blurred with standard latex (plasticiser containing) or foil balloons, all of which may use precious helium resources.
Instead Bamana is a hanging structure formed of smaller objects which are torn off through a party, causing destruction and temporariness of the sculpture like assembly. These smaller objects are a mix of standard typologies and more unusual forms, which combined with the finish are intended to spark intrigue. The objects in this case are; a maraca, frisbee, team confetti canon and boomerang.
Moulded from recycled paper and waste water, finished with edible plant based pigments and filled with recycled paper confetti, Bamana contains no glues, no plastics, is technically edible, biodegrades rapidly when wet and is recyclable with any household paper.
Ecal / Maxwell Ashford
Enabling a 'leave no trace fire' and an alternative to disposable barbecues.
Collapsing down to slimmer than an inch, Fire Safe is a lightweight outdoor fire pit. It works modularly with Wolf and Grizzly’s 'Grill M1' for cooking.
The corrugated base form creates a circulating airflow, which protected by the sides of the frame makes for efficient fires from wood or charcoal.
It’s the first camping fire pit that address disposal of ashes after a fire, with the base part acting as a scoop for the remains in a bid to encourage a complete leave no trace use.
Constructed entirely of durable SS 304 it can be 100% recycled without being deconstructed - hopefully after a long life of use.
Made in China by a highly skilled factory.
Constructed in heavy weight polypropylene fabric.
In comparison to a woven cotton, virgin polypropylene fabric has 52% safer chemistry, uses 57% less water and causes 35% less waste. It also has better chemistry, uses less water and energy than virgin polyester. It's highly recyclable, being a spun fabric as opposed to woven.
[LCA information from Nike Making 2020].
For Wolf and Grizzly
Good Design Award [Japanese G Mark] 2020
US Good Design Award 2019