Compassionate thinking – innovative design
Studio Swine, an innovative design studio started by Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves (architecture and product design graduates), is based in London and São Paulo.
Their mantra is to “explore design through material innovation and creating new sustainable systems whilst placing equal importance on aesthetics, believing that desire is the greatest agent of change.”
Their project – Open Source Sea Chair – is intended to address the problem of plastic at sea.
The United Nations estimates some 100 million tons of plastic waste to be contaminating the world’s oceans. In 2011 it called for phasing in changes in the collection, recycling and re-use of plastics.
“If plastic is treated as a valuable resource, rather than just a waste product, any opportunities to create a secondary value for the material will provide economic incentives for collection and reprocessing,” the UNEP Year Book points out.
To the clever guys of Swine Studio & Kieren Jones this abundance of plastic presented an opportunity “where the material is delivered by the sea to coasts where it can be processed to make new products with the intention of removing the plastic from the marine environment for good”. Their design uses readily available materials and basic DIY skills to enable the creation of a sea chair.
You can download their open source sea chair design manual (open source means the information about the process is freely available for everyone and you are free to improve upon it).
Sometimes the simplest message communicated well can be the most compelling … This simple movie below demonstrates how the sea chair is made; waste plastic picked up by fishing trawlers transformed into chairs on board the boats. It will stay with you for a while. It leaves you just sitting there thinking of all the possibilities of integrating upcycling thinking to this one problem. Especially if a whole industry got on board. But then that was the point(!)
They have further developed this idea of using plastic found in the sea to make chairs by creating a simple 3D printing machine which uses the sun’s energy to melt the plastic. This machine is called a solar extruder.
We have always been drawn to the sea, a fascination which led us to first conceive the ‘Sea Chair’ a project which is about making furniture using plastic that is polluting our oceans. We first heard about the huge problem of marine plastic in 2010, since then we have been designing a series of devices and contraptions to collect and process the sea plastic into sea chairs with tags indicating the geographic coordinates of where it was made.
What are gyres?
Gyres are where ocean currents converge creating a vortex of plastic fragments. These are huge in scale and almost like floating island of dense plastic breaking down over time. A lot of awareness has been generated around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch but there isn’t a great public awareness or research about the problem in the North Atlantic Gyre. Studio Swine want to take the project to the North Atlantic Gyre to make a design collection with the waste we remove, as well as a film that can really engage the public about the issue of sea plastic which break down over time and creates a toxic soup.
Studio Swine was recently successful in funding a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for their film about their voyage into the North Atlantic Gyre with a solar 3D printer, turning ocean plastic into bespoke furniture – made at sea from the sea.
They have completed the film and the project has now launched online! See the film below.