What happens when you have a pile of electronics and no way to recycle them? Designer Rodrigo Alonso created N+ew Seats to address this -- stools that are formed of a whole, whole lot of electronic junk. We covered this back in 2007, but it is worth bringing up again as it is making the rounds on design blogs.
Alonso states that this stool is more a statement than a final product. He writes, "Today we waste a big quantity of electronic material: Computers, plastic cases, electronic cards, hard disks, speakers, kilometers of cables,etc. Here in Latin America, the chance of recycling this e-waste is nearly impossible or a very difficult task.
"[The] endless mountains of material without use end up occupying big spaces [around] our grounds and seas make it extremely important we think of using this garbage as a new material or raw material, to generate new objects that can be re-inserted between us in a useful and aesthetic way."
So, N+ew stands for No More Electronic Waste. It is an installation sculpture made of electronic waste, epoxic resin and melted aluminum (which is also recycled).
At first, we might look at this and think, as the title of this post suggests, a fashion-forward piece of furniture for geeky homes. And indeed, you can get your own stool as a special order and you'll have to pay quite a sum of money for it. If you're geeky enough, go for it. But were this to be a real product, we would be encapsulating e-waste in resin and making it virtually impossible to recycle, ever. Not a smart idea. And as Lloyd points out, "Epoxy resin is the single biggest industrial use of Bisphenol A. So the artist is taking stuff that is probably by now recyclable and making it unrecyclable by encasing it in poison plastic." Again, not great.
That's why the designer's statement behind the stool is important to note:
"The idea behind N+EW isn’t the creation of a recyclable object, but the way to immortalize and to give a last use to objects that their only destination is contamination."
In other words, it is an ode to e-waste. A way to sum up the way in which we're contaminating so many areas of the globe with our old, toxic devices. It is a conversation piece, for sure, and what a conversation it could spark! If it is currently impossible for these electronics to be recycled where the artist is located, then it is far better it end up in an art piece like this than a landfill. Still, this isn't the best solution for e-waste and hopefully since the last time we wrote about the art, there are better solutions for properly dealing with electronic waste in South America (yet another reason electronics manufacturers need to take more responsibility over collection of products at end of life but, that's another post).