At a recent visit to Eyebeam, I came across the Sea Chair Project by Studio Swine and Kieren Jones. According to them, “the United Nation estimates the world’s oceans to contain some 100 million tons of plastic”. Furthermore, due to commercial fishing and depleting fish stocks, the fishing industry is in crisis.
To kill two birds with one stone, the designers created a device to collect plastic waste floating in the ocean and to turn it into stools. The project combines craft, industry and design and offers the fishing industry a new occupation: making chairs onboard.
The first Sea Chair was launched at this year’s Milan Design Week and produced with plastic collected from Porthowan Beach in the UK with the help of the custom made Sea Press. All the machinery and collection tools are refurbished agricultural machinery sourced from salvage yards, re-envisaged and adapted for the purpose of harvesting plastic.
This is then shaped with simple moulds that enable production at sea and in the end each chair is tagged with its geographical coordinates and production number. The designers have a vision for the future:
With the depletion of oil within the earth’s crust, oil rigs will one day become dormant. We envisage a time when they could be adapted to harvest rich reserves of plastic as a source of fuel and re-usable materials.
The project won the RCA Sustain Award. It might seem like a crazy idea at the moment but there are more people who believe that one day we will dig out plastics from landfill and fish it out of the sea if crude oil becomes scarce. And then we should really put an effort into making beautiful and comfortable chairs and other objects out of the collected waste.