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These lamps are made with traditional fibres and PET plastic waste

Spanish designer Alvaro Catalan de Ocon launched the PET Lamp project in 2011 and has since worked with a variety of international communities to repurpose plastic waste. One piece from 2018 uses fibres and PET to create unique looking lamps.

Do you find IKEA’s home furnishing offerings a bit too bland? Want something new and unique? Ever considered your recycling box a potential goldmine for interior lamp décor?

Designer Alvaro Catalan de Ocon has your back, dear reader.

Working with communities all around the world, Alvaro set up the Spanish PET Lamp project in 2011 to reimagine discarded plastic bottles and turn them into home furniture. He uses a combination of PET plastics and intricate weaving processes to create new lighting products that are sustainable.

The idea was a response to the growing plastic problem in the Colombian Amazon. It aims to both raise awareness of long-term pollution and demonstrate how indigenous weaving traditions can be used to tackle modern day problems.

One of the most recent pieces to come out of the project was in 2018, when Alvaro worked with eight Yolngu weavers from Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory to produce a large, flat set of lamps commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria Triennial.

The gallery asked for designs that were woven authentically, and represented the visual language of weavers from the Australian community.

Credit: Colossal

Collaborators included Lynette Birriran, Mary Dhapalany, Judith Djelirr, Joy Gaymula, Melinda Gedjen, Cecile Mopbarrmbrr, Evonne Munuyngu, all from the Bula’ Bula Arts Centre in Ramingining.

Patterns on the lamps are inspired by traditional Yolngu mats from the region, and are made using collected PET plastic bottles and naturally dyed Pandanus fibres. Two Bukmukgu Guyananhawuy lampshades were made, each with multiple light sources hanging down from a tapestry-like surface.

Credit: Colossal

Though you can’t view these pieces in person anymore – the exhibition finished in April 2018 – all of Alvaro’s work is available to check out on his official website. His most recent collaboration was in Thailand, where artists used bamboo to create smaller lamps than those in Australia.

Credit: Colossal

While these were of course made for artistic and awareness purposes, they demonstrate that ancient traditions and cultural heritage can be implemented into new technologies. Translating this ethos into our sustainability projects and large-scale construction could provide us with more eco-conscious products.

The time of carbon-heavy flatpack furniture may be running out. Eat your heart out IKEA.


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