Never Too Small began their Wonderful Waste series with the question; “Building anything is inherently wasteful, but does it have to be?”
Travelling across the globe, the production company met with, filmed and interviewed six designers and inventors, all striving to find beauty in waste; whether it’s discarded furniture, the by-product of construction or, in our case, plastics.
First in the series was Super Local, a social design studio founded by Pim Van Baarsen and Luc Van Hoeckel finding solutions for global and local issues surrounding design. Working from their warehouse in Amsterdam, they design for the 90% of the world for which design is inaccessible. Some of their pioneering projects include creating a wheelchair-accessible playground for a hospital in Malawi made of recycled car parts, designing over 75 pieces of furniture within one and a half years for the Rwanda Institute of Conservation Agriculture, and setting up a recycling workshop in Nepal that creates souvenirs out of plastic waste to tackle Mount Everest’s waste management problems.
The second episode features Studiomama, a design studio based in London that creates award-nominated furniture and sculptures out of offcuts, scrap and discarded objects. Playfully repurposing materials, married couple Nina and Jack have been at the forefront of sustainable design since 2000. One of their most successful projects that put them on the map was their pallet project in 2006, where, after being challenged alongside ten other designers to make something with materials found within a 10-mile radius of your home for less than £10, they created a chair and lamp out of pallets found around the corner of their warehouse. After receiving a lot of interest in buying the furniture, the pair decided to live by their ethos and sell the instructions online (for £10, of course) rather than produce and ship it.
Five Mile Radius is the star of the third episode of Wonderful Waste; a designer based in Australia, Clare Kennedy founded her own architecture and design studio on a principle of Mahatma Gandhi’s to build with materials found within a five mile radius of your home. The studio uses construction waste, namely leftover concrete, bricks, glass, steel scraps and ceramic tiles, to make bespoke furniture. Five Mile Radius makes ‘waste terrazzo’ tables out of all of the aforementioned materials, as well as ‘telegraph stools’ using timber telegraph poles; after learning that 200,000 of these hardwood poles a year are cut down and either sent to landfill or downcycled, the studio paired with a timber recycling company called Kennedy’s Timbers to turn them into unique stools, which are hand cut with a chainsaw and then burned using a Japanese technique for preserving timber.
Excitingly, the fourth and most recent episode features Smile Plastics—we brought the Never Too Small crew into our microfactory and showed them the process from start to finish of creating our 100% recycled and recyclable panels. Our episode takes you behind the scenes of some of our favourite projects, including Ocean Plastic to Fantastic and our collaboration with Selfridges to recycle their previous year’s Christmas baubles. Having the opportunity to share our inspiration and passion with a global audience is something we’ve been looking forward to since the episode was filmed, and so we can’t wait to see what you think.