Planning of new products should take into consideration the origin of raw material, its lifespan, reuse of materials and proper disposal - in addition to taking note of the product role and meaning for people

By: Paulo Biacchi *

Durable, reusable and recyclable: plastic is the perfect material to shape sustainability. However, that does not mean we should include plastic in everything. Thinking of more rational projects starts at the time of conception and goes on during the product development. Mixing a recyclable material with others makes disposal more difficult and may even make recycling impossible.

One of the design premises is to develop long-lasting objects – that can withstand time and stay away from latest fads. The idea is that such objects be part of a timeless aesthetics so the product can be considered a property and can be bequeathed from parent to child. Hence, we got “affective sustainability,” a quite made up term, but I like it a lot.

I myself have Italian plastic chairs, I bought twelve years ago and they are still intact. They have a history, because I bought them at the place I was working at the time, I can talk about it to my friends and relatives. There is no reason to dispose these pieces, but they are 100% polypropylene. The design is totally sustainable.

Design Challenge

With this look towards design and plastic, two years ago, I got involved with Design Challenge, created in 2012 by Braskem. Partnering with Fetiche Studio, we introduced plastic to future architects and designers as a versatile and adaptable material, which allows innovation and solutions to problems. The program, already in its sixth edition, monitors the work of students in higher education from seven universities in São Paulo. The students work under the supervision and evaluation of a team coordinated by me.

More than a competition, the Design Challenge is a qualification training. For the last two editions, we have been educating new professionals into working with plastic. And, currently, this is not taught at universities, so our program works as an intensive summer course, where students are trained to work on projects and to observe sustainability and all processes related to plastic chain.

The methodology is significantly transformative, not only for students, but also for all of us involved. Participating professionals contribute with crucial information that change not only our work routine, but also our personal lives. They change our understanding on consumption and disposal, they transform our look and encourage our creativity and responsibility.

We, from Fetiche Studio, love this experience and we always find better ways to host students who come here without specific knowledge on plastic and, within two months, are experts. We usually say that work, for us, is relationship. This is our most rewarding outcome: human education, communication regarding design social benefits and environmental responsibility.

Social benefits

Through YouTube channel, TV insertions, programs or our daily work with industries and product development, Studio Fetiche communicates the importance of quality design. Our goal is to democratize design and its relevance as a social benefit.

We work to spread a more rational thinking, whether on materials or projects. Our effort is to show how to leverage products at the best way possible and lower disposal. It is to teach people to appraise not only aesthetics, but also the object role and its longevity.

We bring into discussion the most sustainable ways to tackle objects we use on our daily routine – how we can reuse or redesign these materials. We want to encourage people to have hands-on experience – sometimes that works as therapy, sometimes as capital gain or as a business. Valuing the care for the result of our consumption choices is the key.

* Paulo Biacchi is an industrial designer, Studio Fetiche partner, presenter, coordinator and mentor of program Design Challenge in partnership with Braskem

Content published in January 3, 2019

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