we+ simplifies recycling processes with styrofoam furniture
Following the debut of their Urban Origin collection with the Haze copper wire series, contemporary Tokyo-based design studio we+ returns with the second series of the collection, Refoam. Giving form to new perspectives and values through the design project, Refoam presents recycled styrofoam furniture pieces, including tables, stools and benches, that attempt to reframe today’s inappropriate and overly complex relationship between humans and materials. The project transforms a typical recycling process into a new way of manufacturing furniture. Adopting a more simplified, efficient and environmentally conscious recycling process, we+ eliminates the need for transportation of materials and products for recycling and manufacturing. Instead, the project tackles a mountain of styrofoam waste in Tokyo, to metamorphose it into new usable products — directly on site of an intermediate treatment plant.
all images by Masayuki Hayashi
refoam assigns new values to styrofoam waste
we+’s Urban Origin research project considers the origins of the overly complicated manufacturing processes in modern day society, and reevaluates the mass waste produced by cities as indigenous materials. The new Refoam project returns to the starting point of the relationship between humans and materials — using vernacular materials and treating them simply with our own hands — and explores new values for styrofoam. The furniture collection takes form from recycled waste styrofoam that is collected and repurposed in Tokyo, materializing as dark, minimal, monolithic benches, stools, and tables that retain the texture of compressed styrofoam. By considering Tokyo as the origin of used materials, the Japanese design studio simplifies the recycling process by manufacturing furniture directly from waste as an end product on the intermediate treatment plant site, giving a completely different value to the material.
we+ returns with the second series of the Urban Origin collection with Refoam
the second series of the urban origin collection
In Tokyo and its suburbs, styrofoam is commonly melted into ingots in intermediate treatment plants, then exported to Europe and Southeast Asia. Here. they are transformed into granules and then into inexpensive recycled products, mainly from China. In Japan, these products are typically sold in 100-yen shops.
Although recycling rates are high, the process remains very complex. Further, the process and scale of transportation between countries remains vastly damaging to the environment, and time and energy consuming. With Refoam, we+ therefore explores the possibility of using intermediate treatment plants to directly manufacture furniture as an end product, instead of ingots which are transported around the globe to manufacturing sites.
the furniture collection recycles and repurposes waste styrofoam that is collected in Tokyo
the dark, minimal, monolithic benches, stools, and tables retain the texture of compressed styrofoam