Plasticiet originated from an idea that was formed during a field trip in India.
Here Marten & Joost – the designers and founders of Plasticiet – saw various micro-economies popping up based on local demographic waste streams such as cotton clothes, plastic bottles, and metal parts. All in their own unique way the craftsmen there were able to find their own unique translation of these waste materials into something functional and recognizable with added value. They then made these products available for other local industries resulting in personal revenue and providing means of production for other craftsmen, keeping both industries thriving on a small scale.
The Antwerp Ace & Tate store was approached in the same manner. Local demographic plastic waste streams were analyzed questioning what are they, where do these plastics come from, what stories do they hold and how can they be of added value again in Antwerp? Plasticiet found a collaboration with Suez who collect bulky domestic products in the local periphery. These broken and discarded products that were likely used by visitors are crushed to be reused again instore in the center of Antwerp. Marten & Joost were inspired by the clean though playful eyewear stores by Ace & Tate. Often used colors are deep blue and bright red on a white base.
To emphasize the repetition of the colored flakes the viewers are first guided through a space with solely glasses on display after which they are guided through the plastic arches. Here the pattern and beams’ repetition combined with mirrors allow the viewers to indulge completely into the recycled world. As a whole, the area is majestic but is spacious enough to give room to the beholders who want to find those recognizable pieces in the plastic fantastic world. The space then opens up again into a more serene environment where they can comfortably find the eyewear that suits them best.
The recycled plastic used for the Ace&Tate store in Antwerp in polyethylene, the most common material that finds many uses in industrial and construction appliances as well as domestic products such as food packaging, kitchenware, and toys. All the colored chunks visible in the store are collected from the bulky waste of Antwerp’s periphery separated from other types of plastic by a machine developed by Suez who partnered up with us for the realization of this project. The polyethylene was shredded to large pieces that were hand sorted in red, blue and orange, colors that are often used in the visual expression of Ace&Tate’s stores.
Compared to the white base material – which used to be food packaging – the reclaimed plastic from Antwerp becomes less fluid allowing the pieces to retain their shape in the melting process. This way some of the chunks remain their initial shape and the viewer can indulge in finding products they know, or on the other hand, they can completely utilize their own interpretation and visualize recognizable shapes. I like to quote Studio Swine, one of my favorite designer duo to emphasize our vision: “Sustainability without desirability is not sustainable”