From abandoned fishing nets to PET bottles: the ocean plastic haul is huge. Here we highlight members of the design industry determined to revive it for future use. 

It feels inappropriate to wish everyone a happy World Ocean Day when Sri Lanka is experiencing the worst beach pollution in its history. If you haven’t been keeping up with the news, tonnes of tiny plastic granules have washed ashore on the island from burning container ship MV X-Press Pearl, which has now partially sunk. There’s also a risk that the 350 tonnes of bunker fuel on board could leak, devastating marine life and local communities. 

This is an extreme scenario, but cleaning up the ocean has been a necessity for some time now. (It’s been part of World Ocean Day’s agenda for almost 20 years.) From abandoned fishing nets to plastic bottles: the haul is huge, and some members of the design industry are determined to revive it for future use. Here we highlight six recent examples. 

MUSSELBLOMMA 

Inma Bermúdez for Ikea 

Designed by Valencia-based Inma Bermúdez, Ikea’s Musselblomma collection is made from recycled plastic, some of which was collected in the Mediterranean Sea by Spanish fishermen. Comprising a bag, two cushion covers and a tablecloth, the collection was inspired by the ocean, with shapes reminiscent of fish and colours plucked from the sea. For every kilogram of PET plastic waste that can be used to make the polyester fabric for Musselblomma, another nine kg of waste – including other plastics, metal, rubber, glass – is removed from the ocean.

PLASTICITY 

Niccolo Casas 

Plasticity marks Parley for the Oceans’ debut at the Venice Architecture Biennale (on show through 21 November 2021). The 3D-printed installation was designed by architect Niccolo Casas in collaboration with the Italian pavilion and fabricated by Nagami with Parley Ocean Plastic®, upcycled plastic waste recovered from remote islands, waters and coastlines by Parley’s Global Cleanup Network. The project intends to not only demonstrate the potential of upcycling materials, but how digital technologies can transform the results into lightweight, complex architectural structures. 

A NEW WAVE 

Séché Studio for Ege Carpets

Abandoned fishing nets litter the ocean. But up-and-coming designers Laura Bilde and Linnea Ek Blæhr – together Séché Studio – have realized a promising new use for the discarded material: carpeting. Bilde and Ek Blæhr designed A New Wave for Ege Carpets, a collection with three largescale pattern designs. The tactile surfacing is woven from Econyl yarn made from the nets. Used PET bottles are recycled into its patented Ecotrust backing. 

OCEANIC

Camira Fabrics for Normann Copenhagen

Each metre of twill Oceanic textile that Normann Copenhagen’s furniture can now be covered in contains an impressive 26 plastic bottles reclaimed from the sea. Produced by Camira Fabrics and originated from the Seaqual initiative to fight marine plastic pollution, Oceanic is made entirely from the waste. A colour palette of 16 shades in both muted and vibrant hues echo colours found on a natural shoreline. The Era Lounge Chair, designed by Simon Legald, is covered in this new fabric.

OCEAN COLLECTION 

Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel for Mater 

A range of furniture made from ocean plastic and recycled fishing nets, Mater’s Ocean collection welcomed three new additions earlier this year: a bench, lounge chair and lounge table, reimaginations of 1955 design classics by Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel. According to Mater, each Ocean product saves 82 per cent on CO2 emissions when compared with virgin equivalents. 

COAST 

Allan Hagerup for Vestre 

In 2020, furniture manufacturers Vestre and Ope joined forces with environmental activist Rune Gaasø to launch Ogoori, a company that aims to clean up ocean plastic and recycle it for use in furniture design. Vestre’s first result of the venture is Coast, an Allan Hagerup-designed bench made entirely from marine plastics gathered by Ogoori.