It isn’t gold, silver or bronze. But it is the (non-metallic) material our Frame award is constructed from that makes it so special: plastic – that from 10 recycled bottles, to be exact. For the second year in a row, we’ve collaborated with the Rotterdam-based sustainable design studio Better Future Factory to develop the trophies, which take 12 hours to be 3D-printed. Tonight, the 73 jury and people’s choice awards will be presented to their rightful owners at our Frame Awards 2020 ceremony in Amsterdam.

More than just a physical accolade, the awards are a reflection of Frame’s ethos of sustainability and innovation – two of the main things Frame Awards itself was devised to celebrate. That’s why Better Future Factory’s agenda resonates so much with us: ‘The world is struggling with a plastic waste problem,’ cofounder and CEO Casper van der Meer explains, ‘Which puts plastic in a negative light. We believe that it is a unique material that can be part of a circular economy, but only if we start recycling it in a better way. As plastic experts, our mission is to inspire and activate companies to rethink their plastic use, something we do by converting waste streams into valuable products.’

Better Future Factory got its start seven and a half years ago with a 3D-printing machine able to turn plastic beer cups littered at a festival into jewellery on the spot. ‘We basically downscaled the big processes in a mini-factory where people themselves did the work,’ explains Van der Meer, ‘Therefore helping them understand which steps are required to go from plastic cup to a new product.’

Our new ‘products’ – that is, the trophies – are the result of 8-10 prototypes made to test the updated Frame logo, as well as different gradients and colours. The recycled 3D-printing filament is a material developed by Refilament, a sub-company of Better Future Factory. But Refilament hasn’t just produced material from bottles – they’ve also worked with discards from refrigerator interiors, car dashboards and more. It’s through the sub-company’s Instagram account that Better Future Factory first came to connect with Marie Bach Holm. A recent Royal College of Arts graduate, Holm was at the time experimenting with colouring 3D-prints in the same dipping technique as done with polyester clothing. The red and yellow Frame awards have their hue and gradient thanks to this technique.

For Van der Meer, the storytelling element is an important part of each item Better Future Factory creates. ‘It’s not just a piece of anonymous plastic, but a recycled object with a piece of history attached to it.’ That’s very much true in the case of our awards: the 3D-printed trophy is a lasting symbol of globally recognized excellence in the spatial design field.

Stay tuned: the Frame Awards 2020 winners will be announced on Frameweb tomorrow morning.