Cast adrift: Studio Swine creates luxurious objects from polluting plastics

Cast adrift: Studio Swine creates luxurious objects from polluting plastics

Fresh from the unveiling of its sparkling creations for Swarovski at Art Basel, 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.’

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