1 Have a Seat in the World’s First Bioplastic Chair
When forming their eponymous studio in the French Basque Country in 2016, Jean Louis Iratzoki and Ander Lizaso made a commitment to sustainable design. But a chair commission from French manufacturer Alki soon presented them with a dilemma: To achieve their desired shape (a generously proportioned shell atop an oak trestle), a lightweight, mouldable material – namely plastic – was required. Researching alternatives led to a pioneering compromise: the world’s first chair manufactured in bioplastic.
Like petro-derived plastic, bioplastic can be injected, extruded and thermoformed into shape, and even recycled. Unlike traditional plastics, however, it is derived from common agricultural crops – a mixture of sugar cane, cornstarch and beet – so it can be industrially composted at the end of its life.
2 The Power and Beauty of Renewable Bamboo
No stranger to advanced manufacturing techniques, Stefan Diez moved to the other end of the spectrum for a collection made – at the invitation of non-profit initiative Japan Creative – using natural bamboo. Produced with bamboo master Yoshihiro Yamagishi at his workshop on Kōchi Island in Japan, the benches and trestles leave the material in its rawest possible form. Two of the canes that form the legs are cut away in the middle to leave strips, which wrap around the other legs to hold everything together (a Kevlar rope, running down the leg to a wooden peg, keeps the legs from splaying). While the bamboo is raw, it’s anything but rough-hewn: Only meticulous cuts at precise angles, which allow the pieces to fit snugly together when tightened into position, make the benches sturdy enough to stand up to years of use.
3 An Inflatable Theatre that Leaves No Footprint Behind
Since its formation in 1999, Plastique Fantastique has been constructing inflatable pavilions that leave no physical trace once the party is over and audiences have gone home. The massive bubbles – usually large enough to host spectators as well as performers – have turned up on city streets and in parkettes, even underneath highway ramps. As part of the Netherlands’ annual Oerol Festival (hosted on the island of Terschelling), the Berlin studio set up multiple stages composed of domed, soap-bubble-like forms, interlocked and set within a forest. The connected spaces created four performance areas that gave way to nature: The first transparent sphere accommodated a tree; the second was squeezed between branches; and the inflated ring connecting the two stages looped around pine and oak trees to create the third stage in its void. The forest itself became the fourth stage.