Lucy van Lonkhuyzen is a set designer and perhaps will go down in cinema history for the scenography of the Normal People series, based on Sally Roone's best seller of the same name. A magnificent job also thanks to the scenographies made of environments and objects as normal as the two protagonists. Normal and super used: Mrs. van Lonkhuyzen gives credit for the success of the set to an obsessive search for second hand pieces of furniture.
The set designer, without knowing it, has touched on a really hot topic for design: reuse. The eternal life that beautiful and well-made objects can have. And the contribution that this surprising “forever” gives to the daily dose of well-being. Perhaps it is a layering effect that also accompanies the reuse of raw materials.
Giving an – almost – eternal life to objects and materials is not only desirable in the current times, but it is also feasible. Many upholstered items are full of fibers from recycled Pet, and furnishing fabrics are increasingly the result of upcycling. Multi-layer panels have always been made with wood from landfills. Glazes are obtained from the recycling of monitor screens (B&B Italia), collections of tableware from silica recovered from microchips (Studio Plastique). And as complicated and expensive as it is, at least in this cognitive phase, the industry is doing the right thing. Experiment, invest, act.
Anna Nardi, CEO of Nardi, explains: “These projects do not generate turnover in the short term but lay the foundations for a cleaner future, we think that companies also have a social responsibility and an important role to play”. Nardi refers to Regeneration, a project that engages the Venetian company in the withdrawal of plastic furnishings at the end of their life to transform them into a new raw material. A complex logistics that will soon become international and that at the moment gives life to the two series Sipario and Komodo. The products passed the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) exam and the further analysis required for the comparison between the version of the product with virgin polypropylene and the version with recycled material showed a decrease in environmental impact parameters. Certifications and analyzes serve to give concrete meaning to the efforts of companies and guide the evolution of products in a rational way. A useful attitude to talk about circular design with foresight.
Plastic is considered, in a somewhat crude way, the source of every environmental problem. A thought that distresses Domenico Guzzini: “We have been producing household items in acrylic materials for 100 years and have always spent energy and resources on research. Today, aware of our responsibilities, we are working with new plastic materials, patented by us, 100% recycled and with improved functional performance to create a circular economy based on reuse, recycling and not waste. Reducing waste means giving new life to objects”. Circle is the post-consumer material recycling program, which includes the collection for Coop and the Tierra series by Pio e Tito Toso. 30% of Fratelli Guzzini products are currently produced with regenerated material.
Now what is missing is the convinced action of individuals, who must change their habits and mentality. And if there is one difficult thing, this is it. A social design project that requires endorsement actions by mega brands.
Ikea withdraws furniture that has been no longer needed for a few years. And one of the Milanese shops – that of San Giuliano – has opened a circular production workshop that can also be accessed by the public.
Another winning trick is the dissemination of data, the use of factfulness. European citizens buy an average of seven jeans a year, two of which will never be worn and will end up in landfills. Impressive. Ikea has recently presented Fortskrida: “45% is made up of PET bottles and 55% of denim. Recycled plastic is used to reinforce the cotton fibers: if it were not there, the fabric would not be able to withstand daily wear” explains Luca Clerici, new business manager of Ikea Italia.
Cover photo and below, Regeneration installation created with the Komodo system, designed by Raffaello Galiotto for Nardi, in plastic from the recycling of end-of-life outdoor furniture products, on the occasion of the Interni Human Spaces 2019 exhibition-event. Come Sipario (read here), is part of the company's Regeneration project products. Ph. Andrea Martiradonna.