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Tuesday, 03 July 2018

Ocean inspires original designs

ECO-FRIENDLY: Product Design students designed and manufactured the cardboard chairs. ECO-FRIENDLY: Product Design students designed and manufactured the cardboard chairs.

The ocean served as the inspiration for a project that saw second-year product design students designing and manufacturing cardboard chairs.

Product design lecturers Hester Claassen and Veronica Barnes tasked the students with this project during the second term and said the functional cardboard chairs needed to hold a 100kg person.

Students drew inspiration for their furniture from plants, sea life, crabs, shells and corals and were required to explore innovative ways to build weight bearing structures.

World Earth Day (22 April) and World Oceans Day (8 June) fell within the second term. The theme for this year’s World Earth Day was “End Plastic Pollution” while “Preventing plastic pollution and encouraging solutions for a healthy ocean” was the theme for World Oceans Day.

For World Earth Day Barnes discussed plastic pollution in the ocean with the design students, as well as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. “While not all students enjoy swimming or surfing in the ocean, eventually plastic dumped in the ocean will find its way into the food chain, and that affects us all,” said Barnes.

She then challenged the students to help keep plastic out of the oceans by making at least one Ecobrick whilst working on their ocean-inspired furniture project.

The Ecobrick project, which began in Guatemala, uses disposable waste plastic to create something valuable.

Unrecyclable plastic, like foil crisp packets, plastic food packaging or polystyrene, is compressed into 2-litre plastic bottles to form an Ecobrick. Almost two black bags of plastic waste can fit into one Ecobrick.

These thermally insulated Ecobricks can then be used to build low walls, affordable housing, school play areas and temporary displays.

The students learned first-hand about the critical features of comfortable chair design and the potential of humble cardboard as a structural material and produced inspiring and original chair designs. At the same time, they also gained a new awareness of discarded plastic that makes its way into the world’s oceans and kept plastic around them out of the ocean by making Ecobricks.

Written by Ilse Fredericks


Provides coverage for the Health and Wellness Sciences and Informatics and Design Faculties.