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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. Endless variants in object compositions mean it is impossible to identify exactly what materials are, particularly in plastics where sub-variations and full colour spectrums are present. 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-materialising for use with standard shredding recycling facilities. Their single material and colour allows a verifiable material output from 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-materialising.

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, 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 of high enough quality to compete with virgin materials not only reduces the growing pools of waste and pollution associated with dealing with waste but also prevent the devastating planetary impacts of extracting and producing new materials - particularly plastics being derived of crude oil.

Project developing out of 'FRACTIONS' research.

ECAL /Maxwell Ashford, with support of ABB.

Photography:
Nikolai Frerichs

Video:
Joanna Wierzbicka, Ilan Dubi, Alessandro Simone, Ewa Awe

Graphic Design [labels]:
Nicolas Bernklau

Completed 2021

Awarded:
BCV Prize,
Eye's on Talent,
James Dyson Award, Finalist
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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

Completed 2021
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Fractions

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.
ECAL / Maxwell Ashford

Completed 2021
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Party Machine

Events as a result of the COVID pandemic have become smaller and more versatile. 

Designed as a curation of ready made resources, the party machine is an ‘all in one’ tool intended for small adaptable spaces both private and public. It can simply be wheeled in, plugged in and is ready to go.

The design provides and augments music for a DJ or simply playlist to create an immersive experience.

The combination of ready made goods create a unique effect, primarily by the use of ‘smart film’ applied to the polycarbonate screens, this film is optically frosted and turns perfectly transparent when a small electrical current is applied.
 
Internal lights and projectors work in conjunction with the smart film, when frosted the light and projections are presented directly onto the frosted smart film, perceiving the Party Machine as a complete cubed screen. When the smart film is turned optically clear the light passes through and is presented on whatever surrounding surfaces it lands on. This transformation can happen instantly, internalising and externalising effects. It also offers an insight into the technically aesthetic internals of the machine.

Initially completed for Yamaha via a collaboration with ECAL, I continue to developed the project independently, and a working machine is currently being assembled.
ECAL/ Maxwell Ashford

Completed 2021
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Incomplete Lamps

Reduced down to a framework of aluminium and a ceramic bulb holder, users customise ‘Incomplete Lamps’, completing them with existing objects in place of environmentally damaging and hidden components of lighting products - like counterweights.

Every lamp will end up different, personalised and refreshable. A contrast of designed and curated, new and old - reducing the amount the needs to be produced for new objects and making use of the overproduced.

In this scenario a brick for ballast weight, old white cable, draft paper shade and cord for assembly.
ECAL / Maxwell Ashford

Completed 2020
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Garden Brick Ceramics

An exploration in locality. A series of objects in clay dug up from a field just opposite home and fired using wood from the graden.
ECAL / Maxwell Ashford

Completed 2020

Specs / Order
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Holiday Chair

Originally designed and made from quarantine, the holiday chair looks to achieve lounge comfort without the environmental cost of foam and for a low price.

Referencing the director chair typology of gaining flexibility through fabric, we aimed on creating a lot from a little. The frame is made up of three profiles all with 90º angle cuts, other than one angled cut on the armrests.

It’s chunky and surprisingly comfortable.

The chair flat-packs to a box form and assembles by 12 bolts.
Collaboration with Silvio Rebholz.

Completed 2020

Specs / Order
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Aluminium H side table

Giving the appearance of solid aluminium yet weighing 1.6kg, this inquisitive contrast is provided by capped aluminium honey-comb panels.

The raw finish gives subtle reflections of the surrounding environment.

Designed, handmade and photographed from quarantine in the Suffolk countryside.
Completed 2020

Specs / Order
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Plywood School Chair

A chair based around reintroducing natural, warmer materials into schools where seating furniture has become more plastic. This materiality and chunkier form with a hidden construction is intended to contribute to a calmer, relaxing school environment.

The stackable design is made up of components which nest efficiently on the veneers pre-forming, saving waste.

The use of European birch plywood results in a drastic carbon foot print improvement over the typical steel framed or mono-block plastic chairs.

[LCA information from Idemat 2020].
Ecal x Flokk, Maxwel Ashford

Completed 2020
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Bamana

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

Completed 2020
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Moving Image

Collab with
Silvio Rebholz. Two concepts for Vevey Image, a city wide photography exhibition.

1 - A set of sinking canvas's to be mounted in Lac Leman, through the course of each exhibition day the photographs sink into the water.

2 - A series of suspended canvas's that move around the city behind the bus system, being picked up and dropped off by the buses as they past each section.
For Vevey Image / Ecal / Maxwell Ashford

Completed 2019

In collaberation with Silvio Rebholz
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Fire Safe

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 pre-existing 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 also address disposal of ashes after a fire, with the base part acting as a scoop for the remains in a bid to encourage a ‘leave no trace’ use.

Constructed entirely of SS 304 it can be recycled without being deconstructed, hopefully after a long life of use.

Made in China by a highly skilled factory.
For Wolf and Grizzly

Completed 2019

Pantented 2019

Good Design Award [Japanese G Mark] 2020

US Good Design Award 2019

Order
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Fire Safe Case

A compact case to accompany 'Fire Safe'. A purely functional design that contains pockets for the product components and accessories.

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.

Fabrics have notoriously damaging production processes, this was an exercise in balancing durability and more healthy mass production.

[LCA information from Nike Making 2020].
For Wolf and Grizzly

Completed 2019

US Good Design Award 2019
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Nike Grind

Material possibilities from footwear material waste.

A hands on material exploration from recovered used footwear and footwear manufacturing scraps. 

The results of multiple tests and development lead to the creation of a mouldable composite, the predominant material of which being granulated EVA foam / rubber from manufacturing waste of sole components. 

For Nike Grind

Completed 2019

Award winner Nike x IDEO Circular Innovation Award
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Quercus mk.2

A table lamp.

The curved oak frame is steam bent from diseased or naturally fallen wood harvested by tree surgeons. The lengths for steaming are cut directly on the woodland floor. This close link allows investment into sustainable forestry. The resulting frame is treated with natural petroleum free oil, containing a small amount of white wood glue at the ring joint.

The cable flows through the lamp tying the components together, a cut in one place separates the assembly into constituent parts for full recycling or repairs.

The shade is recycled from glass packaging and the electronic components are produced in Europe and assembled in the UK.

For GreebLab

Completed 2017

Specs / Order