Thirdway designs Huckletree’s first London outpost
Thirdway has delivered a co-working space with personality in Soho’s iconic, brutalist Ingestre Court building.
A collaboration between two mission driven companies, The Good Plastic Company and Impact Acoustic, Coral Reef is a bespoke panel created from recycled PET offcuts.
Mix meets with Sven Erni, Co-founder of Swiss acoustics company Impact Acoustic, and Dr William Chizhovsky, Founder and CEO of The Good Plastic Company.
Sven has, for the past four years, been developing acoustic materials made of recycled PET bottles. ‘There’s a lot of whitewashing going on – we wanted our products to be truly sustainable and so we developed a product that is Cradle to Cradle and LEED certified. We manufacture the raw panels and cut them into different shapes – for use in furniture, schools, restaurants and offices.’
The company has small teams in Switzerland and Shanghai – where the raw panels are manufactured. ‘For the past 20 years all the PT from the EU has gone to China, and it wasn’t until 2018 that they cut it off. The recycling industry is there, and for us it makes much more ecological sense to have our manufacturing there,’ says Sven.
‘We have a range of our own products, but about 70% is customised, bespoke work for various architecture and interior design clients.
‘One problem we’ve always had is, what do we do with the offcuts besides its use as acoustic filler? We were searching for a way to upcycle the offcuts in a way that could give the material a third life.’
The Good Plastic Company is a mission-driven organisation based primarily in the Netherlands and London, dedicated to helping solve the problem of 400 million tonnes of plastic waste generated per year.
Producing environmentally friendly panels from recycled plastic, each panel from the Good Plastic Company has the lowest ecological footprint possible and is made from a single type of plastic so it can be easily recycled, extending its use indefinitely. The company’s ‘think globally, act locally’ strategy has already given them a foothold in three European countries, and they are working on expanding to further territories.
‘The recycling of PT bottles is not endless. Each time you melt PET the chemical structure changes and it becomes brittle,’ says Sven. ‘There are several clothing companies (including some big names we won’t mention here) pretending that they are using PET fibre from the ocean – but there is no PET fibre from the ocean – otherwise we would use it!
‘Thanks to the saltwater and UV light, the structure of the plastic changes and it becomes very brittle. You could never make a sneaker out of the fibre, and we can’t use it either. The only thing you can do with ocean plastic is melt it all together and make something out of it, and maybe mix it with cleaner recycled plastic similar to Coral Reef.’
Taking the shredded acoustic offcuts, The Good Plastic Company performed a feasibility test, creating Coral Reef, a beautiful bespoke pattern that reflects the environmental and social aspects of the two companies. The constituent materials are a coral pink PET that could otherwise contaminate our oceans, and a lagoon-blue PS plastic resembling calm sea water. Together, they represent the underwater ecosystem that we want to protect from pollution by re-using post-industrial waste. The panels can be used for furniture and various design elements – and can be further recycled at the end of its life.
‘As much as I talk about whitewashing, at least people are talking about it – and it will get better,’ Sven says. ‘Right now, the technology isn’t there to make something really good out of ocean plastics, but if more and more people talk about it, and more NGOs and start-ups start working with recycling and the circular economy, the better it will get.’
The latest in sustainable philosophy is embodied in The Student Hotel in Delft, with interior surfaces and furniture made from recycled plastic waste. The result is a haven that represents travelling and living with a conscience. The interior design is the result of a successful collaboration between the industry-leading and award-winning hybrid hospitality brand, interior designer The Invisible Party, sustainable material manufacturer The Good Plastic Company and professional construction studio Fiction Factory.
The foyer of the growing chain’s newest location is clad in distinctive bespoke-patterned plastic sheets made from refrigerators, spools and single-use cutlery. The panelling is 100% recycled and easily recyclable, extending indefinitely the economic life of the polystyrene from which it is made. It serves as strong visible evidence of the hotel’s commitment to sustainability and supporting circular economy principles in its design.
Eye-catching patterns and colours were chosen to draw attention to the global problem of plastic waste, with a bespoke design that pays homage and puts a modern twist on traditional Delft pottery. A blue and white field with warm pink and orange highlights forms a dramatic but friendly foyer wall that greets visitors and immediately sets out the hotel’s stall as a place to stay that is as committed to environmental values as its honoured guests.
A co-working area in the hotel features work surfaces made from The Good Plastic Company’s monochrome Reverse Timeless Duo pattern, produced from old refrigerators and household electronic goods such as computer keyboards and mice.
William Chizhovsky comments, ‘At The Good Plastic Company we work constantly to advance our technology to give a second life to more single-use plastics and keep this resource out of landfill or the oceans. We are immensely proud to be part of this sustainable concept that represents a new way of travelling and a new way of making an impact.’
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