With an eco-friendly coffin made from recycled white office paper, you can help save the planet even after you've left it. The coffin is just one of many green items on display at one of London's latest exhibitions, Creative Resource, developed by a Kingston University lecturer.
Featuring work by top designers including furniture guru Philippe Starck, Creative Resource, which is being displayed at the Building Centre galleries off Tottenham Court Rd, includes more than 200 eco-friendly products and materials made from recycled rubbish. These include a chair sculpted from plastic carrier bags and a material formed from discarded coffee grounds.
"Many people don't realise that you can make plastic from a mixture of old dollar bills and denim jeans," Kingston University's Jakki Dehn, a world expert on recycling, said. "I want the visitors to feel and touch these recycled materials and understand that sustainable design isn't just a pipe dream – it's happening right now. We need to encourage product designers and architects to use these materials, and for the public to accept, even demand, them."
Philippe Starck is among the designers on display who have begun to use recycled materials in some of their work. Two of Starck's products – his Hudson barstool made from aluminium cans and his TV case formed from compressed timber waste – are on display. Other materials are made from old mobile phones, aeroplane windscreens and swimming pool covers.
Ms Dehn began collecting different materials made from waste in the US back in 1994. Today she has more than a thousand. Making both designers and the public – including kids of all ages – aware of these recycled materials and their potential is what the exhibition is all about. During her research, she discovered one major DIY retailer already uses recycled materials in many products – but doesn't advertise the fact in case it puts consumers off buying them. "People tend to think that products made from recycled materials are poorer quality," she said. "It's simply not true, and we need to challenge that."
Keen to include a wide audience, Ms Dehn has designed the exhibition to be suitable for all, from primary school children to professional designers. Architects can see the range of building materials available, including lightweight roof tiles made out of discarded rubber and plastic, outdoor-strength plasterboard containing glass and recycled rubber flooring. Kids can discover just what could happen to their recycled bottles and cans.
"Things we would have thrown away in the past have huge creative and economic potential," Ms Dehn said. "Today's design needs to be about sustainability, and we're showing the public and designers alike just what is possible."
Creative Resource is on show at London's Building Centre until 27 September. Admission is free.The exhibition will be on display at Knights Park from Monday for a month.