A simple and powerful toolkit–'Joining Bottles' by Micaella Pedros
Once in a while, refreshing design and simple problem-solving team up, and a designer swooshes them in, right into our world. We encounter a process or product that seems to just 'click', and we wonder to ourselves "How come we never thought of that?!"
London-based designer, Micaella Pedros truly hits the spot with her Joining Bottles project. It is vital to share just how simple, effective and powerful it is. Taking discarded plastic bottles and wood into her hands (literally and figuratively), Micaella has invented a new way of joining materials. Not only that, through this project and technique she addresses the larger problem of waste materials, turning them into eclectic compositions that we would be proud to have in our homes.
Since the materials for each piece in this project so far have been scavenged from the streets of London, each piece is unique and triggers a different conversation. The various kinds of wood and plastic bottles that are available to Micaella dictate the final aspect and composition of the work." Encountering random, unknown materials and shapes triggers unexpected and beautiful relationships" she says. Though the sources of these materials are diverse, and the products are a potpourri of scraps in a way, the end results are harmonious, and the bits of wood and plastic come together as a beautiful whole.
The recent graduate of the Royal College of Art obtained a Master’s Degree in Design Products from the school and describes herself a social and humanitarian designer.
In Micaella's words, she is "Inspired by the values of democratic design and do-it-yourself culture. She truly developed her practice and philosophy during her volunteering experience in Uganda in 2014 and her work/travel in Guatemala in 2015. Through design, she seeks to contribute to society by unveiling ways to play and benefit from local resources and natural forces in order to empower people."
Do watch this great video illustrating Micaella's Joining Bottles project, before following MaterialDriven's recent conversation with her. Learn more about Micaella's process, trajectory, and her presence at the upcoming London Design Festival 2016, as part of the Form&Seek collective of designers.
MD: Micaella, you will be exhibiting the 'Joining Bottles' project at the London Design Festival this year. Share with us a little bit more about this technique and project.
Micaella: Joining Bottles is an experimental wood-joining technique using plastic bottles. By using heat, a simple plastic bottle is transformed into a wood-bonding material. The use of wood comes from two main reasons: It is an abundant material that can be found easily in the city and beyond, and it is easy to carve. Indeed, the strength of the joint between wood pieces depends on irregularities in the wood.
MD: How does your work respond to the broader Form&Seek theme for the festival– 'Deconstruct- Reconstruct'?
Micaella: Joining Bottles seeks to deconstruct beliefs surrounding waste and reconstruct new possibilities. The leftovers of our society are hiding tremendous potentials for empowerment. By reusing two abundant materials–wood and plastic bottles– I reconstruct a new function for them. This process re-expands the notion of accessibility and recycling. It unveils a new reappropriation of material, which can benefit both people and the environment.
MD: What materials have you experimented with in the past, and what led you to your current work with plastic bottles as joinery.
Micaella: Before starting the Joining Bottles project, I was experimenting with resin from pine trees, developing the concept of native technology based on typical local materials. While I was pouring the heated resin onto various materials–I would place a series of them on my work desk to see how the resin would interact with them– I decided to pour the resin onto a plastic bottle. Impacted by the heat of the resin, the plastic started to shrink. At the time I was also finishing a project related to joinery, so at that moment it all just clicked. Following that spark, I explored the idea of using plastic bottles as a bonding material, developing the Joining Bottles technique by understanding its limits and possibilities through making.
MD: Where do the conceptual inspirations for your work com?
Micaella: This project originates in a mixture of thoughts, concepts, and objectives. Coming from the belief that everything we need is in our surroundings, I aim to reveal the creative potential of local resources and technologies that are transparent and within reach. Now the object is no longer a consumption-driven artifact, but a genuine tool for creation and empowerment.
As a designer, I am clearly following the philosophy of the economist Fritz Schumacher, who developed the concept of the Buddhist Economy in his book Small is Beautiful: a study of economics as if people matter. To briefly quote him, he says that “From the point of view of Buddhist Economics, production from local resources and for local needs is the most rational way of economic life.” My work is also greatly influenced by the current sustainability dynamic, as well as by research from my travels in different countries, focusing on the topics of energy, empowerment, and culture.
MD: What reaction to 'Joining Bottles' are you anticipating (and hoping for) from viewers at the London Design Festival?
Micaella: I am hoping for people to be amazed by the simplicity, strength, and accessibility of this technique. This project clearly contributes to changing the perspective on plastic bottles and waste in general. If it can inspire and generate new ways of thinking in peoples' mind, I will have fulfilled my role as a designer.
MD: Tell us about Form&Seek as a platform for your work, and your involvement in this unique collaborative of designers.
Micaella: Form&Seek is a real gravity center, around which people are gravitating, meeting, embracing each other work. It triggers an emulation of creation not only for the designers it involves but also for a larger community of curious beings that are passionate about what imagination can produce.