At this years end of year student shows, repurposed vernacular materials were of great fascination. A new era of waste appropriation was at the forefront of collection, investigation and product development, with students eager to find new ways with the materials that lay scattered around our contemporary age.
At Brighton University Clare Evans studies into the reuse of the local vernacular refuse stream - sea waste plastics . Her Extraordinary from the Ordinary project looks to combine a variety of waste plastics that litter the ocean from micro beads (found in exfoliating skin products) to waste sea rope and plastic bottles washed up on the sea shore; shredding, heating and reforming them into a variety of uniquely patterned products.
Tom Harris from Leeds Met Design course, on the other hand developed a new material made of highly sustainable waste cork granules and beeswax to produce his new luminaire called Cortica. The beauty of the material is that it can be endlessly melted down and reformed ensuring little or no waste in production of the lamp. The lamp itself takes inspiration from the honey dipper -its 5 discs allowing light to gently seep out. It’s a beautiful sensual material, just down go using searing hot tungsten bulbs in it …..!
Inspired by the natural world Marcin Rusak’s Flowering Transition range of products, focus on recreating the beauty of perishable objects in the products that we use everyday – so that once we’ve lost interest in, and discarded them they degrade naturally leaving those objects most precious to us to remain. Poetically his products have been made from discarded, shredded flower waste.
Another stunning material and product out of the Royal College of Art was Yasuhiro Suzuki’s ReCocoon Project. By boiling down silk cocoons he has been able to re-spin the silk thread to create a range of translucent lampshades, using the silks natural glue like protein Sericin to hold the lamp shape. Amazingly he can spin approximately 1.5 kilometres of thread from a single cocoon; the threads heat resistance and lightness adding to the strength and contrasting delicacy of each finished piece.
And lastly I was mesmerised by the surreal but visually delicious investigations of Johanna Schmeer from the RCA. Her work called BioPlastic Fantastic investigates new types of materials, products, and interactions which might emerge from innovations in bio and nanotechnology.
These 7 organically inspired design products are intended to feed all aspects of human needs to survive –encompassing water, vitamins, fibre, sugar, fat protein and minerals. If you have a moment do take a look at her sensual film - http://www.johannaschmeer.com/film/ .
The excitement for me of visiting student end of year shows is in the creativity, investigations and vision of material development unencumbered by financial constraints or consumer needs. Its raw passion for better materials for a better world fascinating.