Hopefully more designers and manufacturers will take a polymer-based leaf out of Studio Swines’ book. Humans Invent met up with Groves to understand why and how the Sea Chair is made.
We say that sustainable design without desire isn’t sustainable. We are trying to match up being socially and environmentally responsible with making things that are desirable and beautiful and can fire the imagination.
Is it right to say you turn waste into design?
We like to look at things that are overlooked or not perceived as beautiful. The design we bring to it is that level of transformation.
Sustainable design without desire isn’t sustainable
We love the monobloc plastic chair that is ubiquitous across the world and we thought about how we could make one of those chairs with the worst low-grade plastic. At the same time we heard about the growing problem of these tiny particles of plastic in the sea – from this we came up with the Sea Chair.
We started going to a beach in Cornwall called Porthtowan which is Britain’s most polluted beach for microplastic. A lot of the plastic we found were these things called nurdles. These are the pellets the injection moulding industry use. All plastic products start off as nurdles and it is one of the most shipped items around the world. The UN estimates 250 quadrillion nurdles will be shipped around the world a year and you get spillages because on average 10,000 shipping containers are lost each year. Recently, in Hong Kong there has been a massive nurdle spill, it looks like snowdrift on the beaches, they are just covered in white nurdles.
That is a disaster on a massive scale but on a regular basis you can go down and see nurdles on our beaches. We use a machine called a nurdler that seperates out particles through density. Nurdles float and sand doesn’t but then you get other organic material that floats. However, if you saturate it in fresh water for long enough it sinks. We have been experimenting a lot with more efficient ways of collecting it.
A lot of people are scared of using plastic as you are always told you can’t recycle mixed plastic because different types have different melting points
I don’t know of them yet but I’m sure there will be. A lot of people are scared of using plastic as you are always told you can’t recycle mixed plastic because different types have different melting points etc. The research always told us it wasn’t possible but when we did our own research we found the majority of the plastic is thermo plastic which means it can be re-melted. If there is other plastic mixed in, it doesn’t necessarily matter because as long as you get an average melting point the rest can either be an aggregate in it or it burns which is why it looks a bit black.