Investigator of trends and promoter of new talents, Rossana Orlandi has selected a series of objects and design ideas that are recycled or recyclable to present at Milan Design Week 2021. Titled Guiltless Plastic, the project originates from the idea that plastic is not in itself something to blame – on the contrary, according to Orlandi, plastic waste can easily be considered one of the biggest resources available with potential to be transformed, so it’s fundamental to promote the recycling and upcycling of plastic in design. 

Guiltless Plastic 2021 

Drone photography of milanese palazzo courtyard with rossana orlandi guiltless plastic installation
Circular Lab arena

For its 2021 edition, Guiltless Plastic has been impressively set into the Museo Nazionale della Scienza e della Tecnologia Leonardo da Vinci, the largest science and technology museum in Italy. Just a stroll from Orlandi’s gallery, it has been turned into a farsighted space where design meets art and architecture to address re-waste. 

Inside the museum, the mix of past splendour and tension towards the future is apparent. The cloisters (the museum occupies the spaces of a former Benedictine monastery) are turned into the Hall of Waste, a scenic succession of projects by eco-friendly companies and designers, while the gardens are converted into a TrashFormation Village devoted to low environmental impact architectures. These include the Houseboat designed by Lucio Micheletti, a blue micro-living unit on two levels celebrating life on a boat; and the Circular Lab designed by architect Mario Cucinella, a recyclable arena made through the assembly of tanks usually used for the collection of industrial waste. 

3d printed clear plastic vases

Nearby, under impressive Baroque frescoes, the Sala del Cenacolo – a former refectory of the monastery, opened to the public last year after a renovation – is transmuted into a modern supermarket, or Re-Food Market, set up with an installation dedicated to the recovery of food waste. There’s even a school, whose walls are made with recycled and recyclable chairs by Danish architecture studio Lendager Group.

Alongside Guiltless Plastic, Rossana Orlandi launched the third edition of its Ro Plastic Prize, an international award committed to stimulating creativity and social responsibility on the issue. The winners of this year’s edition, just announced, are Maria Koijck, with a touching video in which she lies in the midst of a huge amount of waste resulting from an operation she underwent for breast cancer; zero-waste portable bluetooth speakers made out battery cells from e-bikes by the sustainable design company Gomi; and Álvaro Catalán de Ocón’s rug woven with recycled plastic debris, called ‘Plastic River No.6 Ganges’ and displaying a map of the Ganges region, one of most polluted rivers in the world. §

stone bench with curved edges
Among the exhibition’s other material explorations is this stone bench by BCXSY and Laboratorio Morseletto
Rug featuring colourful striped motif in recycled materials by Patricia Urquiola

Patricia Urquiola’s ‘Nuances’ rug for Gan, made by discarded felt fibre

Cloister in Milanese Palazzo with architectural installation
School made with recycled and recyclable chairs by Danish architecture studio Lendager Group 
lacquered colourful bricks shown in the museum courtyard by Rossana Orlandi
The ‘2,1 kg Elegance’ chair (inspired by Gio Ponti’s ‘Superleggera’) by Hans Sandgren Jakobsen
Sofa made with recycled plastic recreating stone effect
‘Johnny Couch’ by Klass Kuiken, inspired by Dadaism and Punk aesthetics and part of the ‘Stop Making Sense!’ collection by White Noise, the result of a collaboration between Kuiken and Charley Reijnders
Houseboat installation, part of Guiltless Plastic show in Milan

Houseboat designed by Lucio Micheletti, a blue micro-living unit on two levels