Best Of: recycled ocean plastic projects in honour of World Oceans Day
Today is World Oceans Day. Just like this year’s roster of design festivals, the majority of events dedicated to the cause will be happening online due to the social-distancing measures necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis.
In its press release for this year’s edition, the organization behind World Oceans Day shared its intention to grow the global movement to call on world leaders to protect 30 per cent of the world’s ocean by 2030, a campaign called 30x30. Doing so, the organization believes, would ‘help to ensure a healthy home for both marine and human life’.
In areas where it’s safe to do so, people will be taking to the beaches for organized clean-ups, continuing the ongoing battle against plastic pollution. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, ‘billions of pounds of plastic can be found in swirling convergences that make up about 40 percent of the world's ocean surfaces. At current rates plastic is expected to outweigh all the fish in the sea by 2050.’
Aside from reducing plastic production, what can we do with the stuff that already exists? Over the years, designers and brands have offered some solutions. Here we round up six from our archives.
Corona and Parley for the Oceans
An innovative new physical retail format comes in the form of a collaboration between beverage brand Corona and sustainable design collective Parley for the Oceans. Launched in Bali earlier this year, La Casa is a temporary structure made from 1.5 tonnes of recycled plastic and will act as an events space-cum-incubator for collaborations between surfers, scientists and the local community.
PASS ON PLASTIC
Sky and Shed
In 2018, Sky teamed up with environmental organization Project Zero to launch an immersive in-store experience called Pass on Plastic, packing a Soho store designed by Shed with interactive displays and information about oceanic plastic pollution. But the real physical impact came from Plasticus: a quarter-tonne whale made of harvested oceanic plastic and representing the quantity that spills into the ocean every second. The issue with sustainability is that the stats and facts can become meaningless in the abstract, whereas you really can’t ignore the giant plastic whale in the room.
Studio Swine's Gyrecraft collection consists of five luxury objects crafted from plastic pollution extracted from the gyres of the Atlantic Ocean. The design studio’s cofounders – Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami – embarked upon a seafaring voyage of 1,000 nautical miles across the Northern Atlantic Ocean in search of treasure, returning with jewel-like morsels of vibrantly coloured plastic. Inset into gold frames and studded onto plates, the plastics are the heart of the artisanal collection of five bespoke objects. Each representing one of the major gyres, limited-edition pieces were handcrafted for the Indian, North Atlantic, North Pacific, South Atlantic and South Pacific Oceans.
Read the full story here.
Arabeschi di Latte
Selfridges decided to take a clear step towards sustainability by joining the Project Ocean 2015 campaign. The British retailer pledged to remove all plastic bottles from its food halls and restaurants across the UK, saving some 400,000 bottles annually. As part of the Project Ocean exhibition, food design studio Arabeschi di Latte installed a Water Bar in the department store. Visitors could order a glass of H2O treated with charcoal, minerals and herbs, which was served on a long terrazzo-like counter made from blue recycled glass. The idea was that instead of sipping on the go, something the bottled water industry is betting on, the act of drinking water could become more of a ritual – or, as Arabeschi di Latte calls it, a moment to ‘drink and think’.
Read the full story here.
DROP IN THE OCEAN
At the 2017 edition of London Design Festival, designer Brodie Neill presented Drop in the Ocean, a waterfall-inspired installation showcasing his work with recycled ocean plastic. The furniture pieces were a continuation of his 2016 design, the Gyro table, for which hundreds of plastic fragments were set into a resin surface to produce an ombré effect. Called Flotsam, the 2017 collection featured Neill’s ‘ocean terrazzo’ in a more uniform manner on both a bench and a coffee table.
Eugeni Quitllet for Vondom
During Valencia Design Week in 2019, Vondom shared its stance on the climate crisis and plastic pollution problem: ‘We would like to offer more than just designer furniture,’ said the brand’s marketing director, Michelle Poon, explaining that Vondom aims to create pieces made entirely from plastic waste collected from the sea. ‘We aspire to be pioneers in this field.’ Vondom’s presentation saw Revolution by Eugeni Quitllet – a seating collection composed of 100 per cent recycled ocean plastic – displayed within an immersive marine-inspired atmosphere achieved with the help of projections and lighting.
Read about more sustainability-focused projects here.