Plastic Bakery

A new taste for plastic waste, 2016

The Plastic Bakery project aims at converting plastic waste into do-it-yourself items of craft by using the metaphor of baking.

Recycling plastics is a process that is much easier said than accomplished. Reheating plastics progressively degrades the long polymer chains causing a reduction in strength and stiffness of the material. Companies that use plastics for their products, therefore, do not always prefer recycled plastics. Yet low technical performance is not the only reason behind the resistance of companies towards using recycled plastics. Designers, in general, dismiss recycled materials as inexpensive and inferior quality before exploring new applications with them (Dehn, 2014). This project shows my journey to design (1) a service system for collection and recycling of plastic wastes, and (2) a product that brings forward the unique qualities of recycled plastics and make people cherish re-cycled plastics as personal Do-It-Yourself souvenirs. I applied the Material Driven Design Method to create a materials experience vision and find unique qualities of recycled plastics.

I reflected on the results of my tinkering experiments with recycled plastics, my findings on the experiential qualities of the material and the previously deigned products from recycled plastics (i.e. material benchmarking). The element of surprise that people expressed at the colour patterns arising from the flow of plastics and the translucency of the tiles captured my interest. However, the emotion of surprise was heightened for me owing to my involvement in the whole process from melting the plastics to seeing the beautiful striated patterns in the final form. So, I decided to integrate this approach in a product wherein this feeling of “creating beauty” is infused. When the surface was imprinted with a stamp and the pattern and the irregularities of handcrafting became visible when the sample was held in light, it further added to the feeling of surprise.