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From everyday waste to materials and products

Last month, New York art and design school Pratt Institute launched its first-ever Material Lab Prize, honouring students who engage in reclaimed materials exploration.

First prize went to Industrial Design graduate Sophia Yimeng Sun with het project Cocoon, a lamp collection made of discarded HDPE grocery bags. In the New York recycling system, plastic bags aren’t accepted from the trash and therefore end up on the landfill or in the ocean. Because of the plastic bags’ translucency and film-like features Sun used them to create lamps, using a so-called ‘Mountain and Valley’ pleat, which can easily done by hand or by machine. The plastic bags are connected using an iron.

The new material Newspaperwood, designed by Industrial Design graduate Asad Jawed Ahmed, received second place in the awards. It is a raw material made of newspapers, resulting in a structure and visuals similar to wood. The material is made from strips of newspaper and a rice-based natural glue.

Third place went to Julia Brière of the Sustainable Design Certificate Program.  She created a bioplastic material made from waste avocado pits. The pits are baked for 2 hours at 200 degrees Fahrenheit, blended, baked again, and then ground into a powder. This powder is mixed with gelatine, agar, glycerol, and water. This mixture is poured into a mould and left to air dry. The designer also offers a recipe for moulds made of the pits.

Honourable mentions went to a material exploration of dryer lint, the design for a facility to repair donated goods, and zero waste garment collection. For all entries, click here.

Photos: Pratt Institute

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