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The Brief
Published: 7 Nov 2018

Designers Mine from Waste Streams

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Simón Ballen Botero

Sustainable and untapped resources were key themes at this year’s Dutch Design Week (October 20-28), with numerous designers turning their attention to waste streams as a material resource for new products. We highlight three inspiring projects.

  • Colombian designer Simón Ballen Botero transformed a waste product from the gold-mining industry into functional glass objects, as part of his community-based project Suelo Orfebre (meaning ‘goldsmith’). Crushed ore waste known as jagua, which is currently discarded in rivers, was used to colour the series of glass vessels and cups.

    Locals from Marmato (a historical gold-mining region in Colombia) took part in glassblowing workshops to create the pieces, using moulds made from locally sourced materials.

    While aiming to reduce the environmental impact of mining, the project also encourages the community to rediscover its local resources’ potential, leaving behind a catalogue of possibilities for social and economic benefit – something we expect to see more of next year (see our Look Ahead 2019: Colour & Materials).
  • Eindhoven-based designer Tim Teven created a series of modular furniture pieces using unrecyclable paper waste from the paper-recycling industry. The designer shredded, dried and combined the leftover fibres with pigment and binder before moulding and pressing them into building blocks, which form the elements of his shelves, stools and benches. The hard, strong and smooth-finished material is reminiscent of stone or brick.
  • Project Geó is an extension of group student project Ne-Ro, initiated by the Tomas Bata University in the Czech Republic. It explores the repurposing of slate waste generated by surface and deep mining. At Dutch Design Week, students presented a diverse collection of products made using an experimental geo-polymer developed by the team. Pieces included functional tableware and decorative accessories. 

For more on waste mining and sustainable solutions, see Sustainability Turns Smart. See our full coverage of Dutch Design Week 2018 here.

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Tim Teven
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Project Geó, Veronika Valušková
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