Ted Ten- Design For Cyclability

This strategy looks at the life cycle of a product, and how designers can make this as productive and efficient as possible. The idea of working around a “waste hierarchy” is described well in this image:


Image Reference: “Design for Cyclability” lecture,

The waste hierarchy will be a useful tool for me when designing. I would always think about how to minimise material use, and the sustainability of the materials I am using, but would neglect the longer term picture. The hierarchy can prompt me to plan how my product can perform at later stages in it’s life cycle.

I have always thought as long as a product can be recycled, then great. However, The Design Tex Group point out that recycling only “postpones the disregarded materials arrival to landfill, where it may never biodegrade…”.  I hadn’t thought about it like that before, and it highlights to me the importance of searching for materials that are ‘truly” sustainable. Those that will eventually biodegrade, without causing harm to the environment. These are described as “Closed Looped” materials, which would never loose their value and can be recycled indefinitely.

Most plastic carrier bags can be recycled these days, but the process itself requires a lot of energy from heat and can create harmful chemicals. With this in mind, Michelle Baggermen thought about alternative ways to prolong the use of the plastic bags themselves, creating “precious waste”- using the bags to make a fine yarn which can then be woven into delicate fabrics. I like this project because the result looks so refined and delicate, and doesn’t fit the stereotype that “recycled” has to mean a somewhat make do, shabby chic aesthetic.


References: -2/11/2013, http://inhabitat.com/precious-waste-plastic-shopping-bags-recycled-into-a-new-durable-textile/baggerman-precious-waste-plastic-bag-textile-1/, website

– “Design for Cyclability” lecture, Michelle Baggerman, 2006

Another lovely project by  Oscar Medley-Whitfield and Harry Trimble, and how they turned clay dug from the banks of the river Thames into ceramic tableware. They explore the idea of making something out of nothing- utilising under appreciated and plentiful resources. Whilst clay is usually laden with additives to give it certain properties, the designers kept their clay as pure as possible, simply moulding it at high temperatures.

A key part of the Inspiration for my project this year has come from the Thames- the sequences and patterns of the tide, the sensory experience of the water itself. Finding a way to use the materials left beneath the water in order to influence and construct my design would not only offer an environmental solution, but add a contextual richness to the work.


 References: -2/11/2013, http://www.oscarmw.com/Wharfware, website

– “Design for Cyclability” Lecture, Oscar Medley and Whitfield & Harry Trimble, Warfare (2012)