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These beautiful objects are made from waste

Waste not want not! These bold and innovative creators are designing objects and fashion using waste as their starting point.

These beautiful objects are made from waste

What if waste could be reframed as an abundant resource for objects, rather than an unwanted material? What if waste could be made useful and beautiful, re-birthed and given worth? These questions form the premise of The Waste Refinery, a Singapore exhibition spotlighting 20 local and international creators who are tackling this critical global issue through design.

According to a report by the World Bank, over two billion tonnes of municipal waste was generated in 2016, and this figure is set to increase by 70 per cent over the next 30 years.

“One of the most pressing issues when it comes to sustainability is what can we do with the ‘monster’ – mountains of waste – that we created. The exhibits here go beyond aesthetics. They demonstrate a utilitarian and functional angle to show that waste can be a truly valuable resource,” says exhibition curator and creative director of Kinetic Singapore, Pann Lim.

The exhibits are varied yet created with circularity in mind. Of the 20 exhibits that occupy the atrium of National Design Centre (running until 16 January 2022), here are six highlights picked out by our editor Vanitha Pavapathi.

Radical Plastics (Indonesia)

Indonesia-based Space Available turns plastic waste into circular products. The Peggy Chair, designed in collaboration with South Korean DJ Peggy Gou is made with over 20kg of plastic salvaged from landfills, rivers and the ocean.

Space Available x Peggy Gou
The Peggy Chair by Space Available with Peggy Gou.

Clothes That Grow (Britain)

To break the wasteful cycle of discarding outgrown children’s clothes, Petit Pli creates garments that grow with the child – up to seven times the original size. Made with 100 per cent recycled polyester derived from plastic bottles and using monofibre construction, these clothes can be easily recycled at the end of their use. The range has since grown to include adaptive garments for adults too.

Petit Pli’s garments that grow.

Monolith (Singapore)

LAAT repurposes European marble offcuts, unused mild steel and panels of mirrors into abstract geometric homewares finished with raw concrete. These pieces are not only an exercise in upcycling, they hold a mirror up to the excessive and careless ways in which we produce and discard materials and items.

LAAT’s mindfully made homewares.

Piñatex (Philippines)

Ananas Anam turns pineapple leaves from farming cooperatives in Philippines into Piñatex, a sustainable vegan leather for use in fashion, accessories, upholstery and more. The studio not only gives new life to this agricultural by-product that would otherwise be discarded, but also create an additional stream of income for pineapple farmers.

Turning pineapple leaves into sustainable vegan leather – Ananas Anam.

Ignorance Is Bliss (Lithuania)

Netherland-based material designer, Agne Kucerenkaite glazes his collection of ceramic vessels with coloured pigments derived from metal mining residue.

Glazing tiles from metal mining residue – Agne Kucerenkaite.

Irotsugi (Japan)

Fascinated with the unique beauty of broken glass, Kazuhiro Yamanaka artfully mends them with coloured resin, purposefully emphasising the cracked edges that follow the providence of nature.

Kazuhiro Yamanaka’s artfully mended glass.

National Design Centre, Singapore

We think you might like this interview with Marcel Niederberger, head of sustainability at V-ZUG.

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