There is nothing like a deadline. And yesterday evening, the end of July was the deadline for entries into the Parley x Adidas contest to win one of the concept pairs of new trainers made from recovered ocean plastic. As you can all imagine, with our studio obsession and work in marine litter (using the Parley AIR principles), these trainers are rather something special. We would LOVE to see a pair, let alone have the chance of having a set in the studio… So, we created a little video about why we think this is important and what we are doing about it and uploaded it to our Instagram account – something we have actually been meaning to do for a while. This contest was the nudge we needed. Our little vid is also a call to action if you will. Just think what we could achieve if we all work together…
There is little saying which states ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. Well, that is May for us. And we made it. With Artists Open Houses each weekend, regular studio work and teaching, May is always rammed, but we decided to pile on the pressure and add on our very first appearance at Clerkenwell Design Week too. Why not.
And it was fantastic.
We were based in the old police holding cells of the House of Detention for Platform – a curated show of ‘up and coming design talent’ which showed a mix of mostly furniture and home related products from a fantastic mix of designers. We were there to show and discuss our ‘Ghost Gear Chandelier’, which we created earlier this year for the World Cetacean Alliance and other products which were borne from the plastic related litter we recovered during our Big Spring Beach Clean for Surfers Against Sewage.
Utilising the Parley A.I.R. principle, (Avoid Intercept Redesign), we created a series of sculptural vessels, woven seat bases and jewellery pieces from waste plastic, netting and rope, which were shown in our little cell alongside the Ghost Gear Chandelier. We had the plastics collected by us and our volunteers on our two hour SAS Big Spring Beach Clean and scattered them in a ‘tide line’ on the sand floor of the cell. We had some beautiful graphics that showed the bubble netting feeding method of the humpback whales and the issues with marine plastic.
We were ready for people to visit and talk to us about the issues with plastic waste, and how, as designers, we sit on the forefront of the battle lines not only with the materials we specify, but utilising stuff at the ‘end of life’. What took us rather by surprise was the incredible response we had to the pieces – from tears of sadness to enquiries of how large we could make a similar piece – ‘would you be able to make it large enough for a hotel lobby…?’ Er, yes. Our base material is, unfortunately, far too easy to source.
We could make these chandeliers anywhere in the world – possibly the most depressing product plan we have had to date.
But this was the point. We were there to open peoples eyes to the issues. Make them think. Make them notice stuff. Pick up a few bits when they were on the beach. Refuse that plastic straw. And from the responses we got – from joy, hugs, business cards and emails, to tears and shamed silence – we certainly reached people.
This is why we design.
And as the three days whizzed by, we found that people were asking what we were going to do next with the project. What were we going to show at Clerkenwell Design Week next year? When could they buy the stuff on show? How could they stay in touch – and how could they help?
Well, we think we have found our calling. Expect to see a deeper level of research and a deeper amount of transformation of marine litter into new products at Clerkenwell Design Week next year, hopefully working more with our great partners this year – Surfers Against Sewage, Parley for the Oceans and the World Cetacean Alliance – plus others we have already chatted to…
We truly believe that designers have a great power and great responsibility and need to use it for good. Just like Spiderman, or maybe in our case Aquaman.
Thank you to everyone who visited us. Thank you to our awesome partners – Surfers Against Sewage, Parley for the Oceans and the World Cetacean Alliance. Thank you to Monty Hubble who allowed us to use his drone imagery of humpbacks bubble netting in our info section. And thank you to Clerkenwell Design Week for inviting us to exhibit what is quite a left field thing (and asking us back next year). See you at Clerkenwell next year, and keep an eye on the blog to see how things are developing in the meantime…