Mother of pearl chair
Sustainable design: Plastic waste into timeless design...
- Measures: L48 x W54.5 x H74.5 cm (Seat: H43.5cm)
- Recycled polycarbonate
- Limited Edition of 10
- Signed and numbered
- Design: Marten van Middelkoop and Joost Dingemans
Plasticiet originated from an idea that was formed during a field trip in India where we saw various micro-economies popping up based on local demographic waste streams such as cotton clothes, plastic bottles and metal parts. All in their own unique way the craftsmen there were able to find their own unique translation of these waste materials into something functional and recognisable with added value. They then made these products available for other local industries resulting in personal revenue and providing means of production for other craftsmen, keeping both industries thriving on a small scale.
When we were trying to find solutions for people’s and industry’s disposed of plastics, looking back at the IDEA we studied in India we knew that the outcome should not be a final product. Inspired by the primal beauty and longevity of natural stone we then aspired to create a sheet material that would inspire other creators to build objects that can last. To make a waste material appealable we underwent a thorough research on how to give these plastic products a distinct super-natural marbled or terrazzo appearance, for if the material isn’t beautiful it won’t sustain.
For the past two years we have underwent some challengers working with recycled plastic. Each plastic has a different viscosity even when it’s of the same type. Besides that we often work with plastic that contain some sort of contamination. Hence we always need to test our material intensively before we are able to resell it as a sheet material. This hands-on approach allows for quite a bit of experimentation which gives way for us to broaden our knowledge. Manifesting this collection was about stretching the boundaries of our know-how, creating a Craft with a highly industrialised material yet at the same time we wanted to show that plastic waste used as a raw material is able to Stand out next to other high-end materials. Given that Plasticiet’s key inspiration always comes from natural stone and rock Formations it was only logical to find inspiration in the Neolithicum - the last part of the Stone Age - where our predecessors used more Primitive means to come about. The collection currently holds three pieces; a cabinet, stool and chair. Three basic yet essential pieces of furniture that everyone recognizes instantly.
To create the marbled or pearlescent dessin we first melt the material, and then start kneading and mixing it when it’s still warm. The technique we use is very similar to taffy making for sugary candy canes. During this process the material is stretched and folded numerous times, aerating it. The tiny stretched air bubbles captured within the translucent plastic reflect light resulting in an iridescent glow resembling mother of pearl.
Every part of the Mother of Pearl collection is individually moulded and when all the parts are completed they’re joined together. We can create much larger pieces than what the collection currently shows by playing with the composition and holding in mind that polycarbonate is an extremely tough material. Currently the largest single block we’ve made was around 15 kilograms, which is twice the size of the chair’s seat. At that weight it’s quite a tough job stretching and folding the material but we’re planning to go bigger still! Four hands are better than two, so 30kg should definitely be achievable.
To source the material we partnered up with several Dutch companies such as LC Plastics, Suez and PRC. We often drive by to visit their shredding facilities to see what’s in stock. Other times we receive a call when a batch of plastic arrived that’s contaminated with leaves, water or a wrong plastic type mixed within; the regular plastic industry can often not deal with this because it will damage their machinery. Normally batches like this end up in ‘thermal recycling’ or in other words; incineration. Greyish - one of our previous stock materials – was one of these batches we’ve saved from the furnace! Each sheet material in our collection tells a different origin story. For instance Chocolate Factory is made of discarded moulds from the chocolate industry where the pastel tones are used as colour coding. Nova mainly contains off-cuts from the production of air cleaning units. The Mother of Pearl collection is made out of polycarbonate, a highly technical plastic used in construction, electronics and even bullet-proof “glass”. Hence the slightest amount of contamination renders it almost useless for its current purposes. We’re happy to Craft this material into pieces that allow it to shine again.