Having breakfast together to see plastic differently

Standing together at an exhibition for nine days without really talking to each other. Leonne Cuppen, curator of Embassy of Rethinking Plastic, didn’t want that to happen. That’s why she arranged a breakfast this morning where more than sixty designers, partners, students, and guests could get to know each other.

Type Update
Published on 20 October 2021
Having breakfast together to see plastic differently
Part of

Cuppen: “We all have something in common, otherwise we wouldn’t be standing here. We can have a lot of use for each other.” While enjoying a vegan waffle with fruit, a cup of coffee or tea, and orange juice, contacts were made to ensure that together we look at plastic differently.

Dries van Wagenberg, Programme Manager What if Lab at Dutch Design Foundation, also joined in. “It’s super important that the designers come here, but also that the public comes. It’s important that the two worlds come together and that we start to see that plastic is not the devil. You just have to think carefully about what you apply it for.”

At the invitation of Van Wagenberg, Antonio Gracia Rubio, project manager of Brainbow, will be present. His company has developed a machine that makes mouth caps from recycled plastic. That machine is now in Uganda where it produces 40,000 mouth caps per month. A project that started from TMC, an international consultancy for technical specialists, and the social organization Eco Brix that works from Uganda.

According to Gracia Rubio, meetings like this should be organized more often. “There are so many problems that need to be solved. The technical world and the design world can help each other, but they are so far apart.” During the breakfast, the Spaniard also hopes to get in touch with designers for other projects within Brainbow: “We have more products in the pipeline where we can make good use of their insights.”

His former colleagues at TMC have made contact with two Italian designers Giorgio Gasco and Gianmaria Della Ratta, of studio Groovido. They, along with engineer Jan Pels, designed toys made of Torwashable plastic. The Torwash is a kind of washing machine that dissolves PLA – a biodegradable plastic – and soaks it loose. Pels: “With recycling or upcycling, the material loses its quality. With this, it doesn’t. It’s completely circular.”

This allows designers to think in advance about which materials they can best use to really give the product a new life after use. Pels needed the designers to show what the technology makes possible. “I could make a cube, but that would only make technicians very happy,” he says. He wanted to show the story of engineering.

Gasco and Della Ratte came up with toys because toys cannot be made from recycled plastic. Gasco: “It has to be 100 per cent bacteria-free.” The two developed cars with wheels. “You put them in the Torwash and that’s where the magic happens.”

Everything comes out completely separated. The plastic becomes a liquid and the axle of the wheels remains separate. Even the paint, which serves as decoration, shows up. “That material doesn’t work so well in the Torwash,” says Pels. That’s why it’s only right they work together. Then he can advise the designers what to use and what not to use. “And they make the technology visible.” Other designers made, among other things, a lamp and a chair made of plastic that can go into the Torwash.

Because of the contacts with the people at TMC, the designers see new projects for themselves. Gasco: “It was a very fruitful breakfast for us.”

chapter-arrow icon-arrow-down icon-arrow-short icon-arrow-thin icon-close-super-thin icon-play icon-social-facebook icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube