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Brief Published: 10 Jan 2018

Green Retail Design: Robots 3D-Print Eco Store Interior


British eco-ethical accessories brand Bottletop has opened a pioneering store on London’s Regent Street. The company has partnered with UK 3D-printing specialist AI Build and German robot manufacturer Kuka to 3D-print parts of the store interior using upcycled materials.

The brand is best known for its sustainable bags, working with artisans in emerging countries worldwide to produce handmade bags and wallets made of materials such as aluminium ring pulls from beverage cans and recycled plastic. This zero-waste focus has now been channelled into the design of the store, which opened in December 2017.

Industrial-sized robots are steadily printing mesmerising 3D patterns onto the walls and ceiling using a soft, translucent white material made entirely from plastic waste. Tapping into consumer interest in participatory experiences (see Active Flagships and Brand Spaces 2018/19), the printing process takes place during opening hours and will continue for two months. By the end of January, the robots will have recycled more than 60,000 plastic bottles.

The space also doubles as a waste-awareness exhibition. The floor is made of reworked rubber tyres, while the ceiling is festooned with thousands of cans embedded in a suspended, 3D-printed lattice structure. It was designed by London architects Zaha Hadid and Krause Architects.

Demonstrating the 3D-printing process for product customisation purposes, a smaller mechanical robot arm is theatrically staged in the store window, producing bag charms and keyrings for shoppers. 

For more on green retail design, see Reframing Sustainability. See also Sustainable Futures 2017/18.