Cast adrift: Studio Swine creates luxurious objects from polluting plastics

Pictured: the Indian Ocean-inspired piece
Studio Swine has come up with an eco-friendly initiative – 'Gyrecraft' – to create luxury objects out of plastic reclaimed from the sea. Pictured: the Indian Ocean-inspired piece
(Image credit: TBC)

Fresh from the unveiling of its sparkling creations for Swarovski at Art Basel (opens in new tab), radical design practice Studio Swine has turned its attention to a rather different, eco-project.

Its latest venture, Gyrecraft, transforms plastic pollution found adrift at sea into a collection of luxury objects. Both a statement of intent and a social criticism in the making, the items aim to use plastic in a more artisanal, innovative way while drawing attention the growing problem that is plastic pollution in the world's oceans. 

'Gyrecraft is the intersection of the dwindling and under-valued heritage of local maritime crafts and the rapid rise of sea plastic pollution,' explains Azusa Murakami. 

The maritime crafts referred to are those native to coastal and island cultures which traditionally used materials provided by the sea to create beautiful or useful objects. 'Scrimshaw', for example, the art of etching drawings onto whale teeth, is a craft typical of the Azores islands and the inspiration behind one of the five items. Others pieces were influenced by turtle shells and corals.

Derived from 'Gyre', circular currents in an ocean basin, and 'craft', skill and talent, but also a vessel in which to sail, the Gyrecraft objects were made using a Solar Extruder, a unique contraption which takes the tiny fragments of plastic from the ocean and melts them using the power of sun and a gold parabolic mirror. Studio Swine's Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami travelled 1,000 nautical miles - taking them from the Azores to the Canaries through the North Atlantic Gyre - in the autumn of 2014 to collect this once disposable, now rather precious, material, creating their fascinating objects along the way. 

'Sea plastic is a totally global problem and it's a totally global material,' says Murakami. 'Gyrecraft shows how a globally ubiquitous and industrial material such as plastic can be crafted to express regional identity and this once disposable material can be handcrafted into durable, desirable objects.'

'Gyrecraft is the intersection of the dwindling and under-valued heritage of local maritime crafts and the rapid rise of sea plastic pollution,' explains Studio Swine's Azusa Murakami

'Gyrecraft is the intersection of the dwindling and under-valued heritage of local maritime crafts and the rapid rise of sea plastic pollution,' explains Studio Swine's Azusa Murakami

(Image credit: TBC)

'Scrimshaw' - the art of etching drawings onto whale teeth - is a craft typical of the Azores islands and the inspiration behind this object

'Scrimshaw' - the art of etching drawings onto whale teeth - is a craft typical of the Azores islands and the inspiration behind this object

(Image credit: TBC)

Studio Swine's Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami travelled 1,000 nautical miles in a bid to collect plastic from the sea for their designs

Studio Swine's Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami travelled 1,000 nautical miles in a bid to collect plastic from the sea for their designs

(Image credit: TBC)

Five objects were created with materials extracted from different areas of three oceans. This is object was inspired by the South Atlantic Ocean

Five objects were created with materials extracted from different areas of three oceans. This is object was inspired by the South Atlantic Ocean

(Image credit: TBC)

To create their luxury objects, the studio created the solar extruder, a machine that can melt and process plastic by harnessing the power of the sun

To create their luxury objects, the studio created the solar extruder, a machine that can melt and process plastic by harnessing the power of the sun

(Image credit: TBC)

a ship at sea

'The best way to deal with sea plastic is to stop it reaches the ocean, it’s a very expensive and difficult process to recover from the environment once it's out there,' says Murakami

(Image credit: TBC)

a man crafting

Studio Swine's naturical travels took them from the Azores to the Canaries through the North Atlantic Gyre

(Image credit: TBC)

gold parabolic mirror

The plastic is fed into the hopper of the extractor where it goes down to the tube and heated to 300 degrees by the gold parabolic mirror

(Image credit: TBC)

a bucket of plastic

'We are interested in the idea of design being the agent of transformation,' explains Murakami. 'It’s more interesting to take undesirable object and turn it into something desirable - the moment the perception flips, the attraction becomes more powerful.'

(Image credit: TBC)

a man on a ship

The name of the project was derived from 'Gyre', circular currents in an ocean basin, and 'craft', skill and talent, but also a vessel in which to sail

(Image credit: TBC)

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