Plastic is a material as fascinating as polluting. For this reason, during the London Design Festival, 4 young emerging designers were chosen to find design solutions to avoid waste and reuse the material in the best possible way for the environment.
We decided to meet Charlotte Kidger with a Master’s degree in Material Futures at Central Saint Martins who told us about Industrial Craft, a project focused on the reuse and versatility of expanded polyurethane powder. The scraps, deriving from industrial processes, are mixed with resin in a ratio of 70/30, cold fused and used for the creation of sculptural and functional objects with irregular shapes and stratified colors.
Get to grips with this new material at the London Design Fair which brings together 550 exhibitors from 36 countries from 20 to 23 September in the creative heart of East London
What is your background?
I studied BA Printed Textiles & Surface Design at Leeds Arts University and then went on to work in CMF Design for various companies before going back to University to study MA Material Futures at Central St Martins
When did you realise that you wanted to become a material designer?
I knew early on during my BA that I wanted to work with materials in a very hands-on and experimental way. I was always drawn to working with unconventional materials where I could push the boundaries beyond what was expected from traditional textiles. I began my experience within different CMF (color, material and finish) roles, this helped broaden my knowledge of how vital the role of materials are within the design industry. It was during this time that I realized I wanted to push further and work with materials in a more sustainable approach. From this, I went on to study MA Material Futures where my current project began
Tell us more about the project you will present this year at LDF
My graduating project Industrial Craft is a material led a project that focuses on the utilization and repurposing of waste Polyurethane Foam dust from CNC fabrication companies. Treating the PU dust as a new form of raw material I have not only diverted from landfill and incineration but also shown a solution and beauty to how the material can be utilized and crafted with. Creating a composite material I have used cold-casting techniques to cast into one-off sculptural forms and objects that best highlight the qualities of the materials. The colors have been achieved through pigmentation during the casting process and were created to achieve a luxurious and rich finish. Each piece is unique through its coloring and layering and has a zero-waste process that aims to encapsulate a previously problematic material within a form that represents longevity and desire. Some of my experiments on can be seen during LDF so keep and eye out!
Parts of Industrial Craft will be presented as part of the Material of the Year exhibition: Plastic with London Design Fair. I am very honored and excited to have been selected as one of four designers to represent this year beloved material, plastic. It will be a great opportunity to discuss the project further and continue raising awareness on how designers can harvest and utilize waste materials
What inspired you?
I spent a lot of time researching and visiting various industrial estates in the search for material waste streams that I could potentially work with. The bold forms seen within my collection have been inspired, if not made from artifacts found within the environments I collected the material from. I have also always been very inspired by minimalist architecture for its basic geometric forms and simple choice of materials
Can we say that you promote sustainability?
I wouldn’t outright say I promote sustainability but I definitely believe I touch on certain elements of it or at least raise awareness to work with materials in a more sustainable way. By viewing the Polyurethane Foam dust I work with as a secondary raw material and utilizing the abundant source that is available provides the first step in a sustainable approach to working with industrial waste materials. Diverting the material from incineration and landfill helps to suggest that it is possible to repurpose materials that already surround us.
According to your point of view, ‘What to see’ and ” Place to be ” during the London Design Week
This is hard as there is so much great stuff to see! I would have to say the “place to be” for me is always Shoreditch Design Triangle, there is always a great atmosphere and it definitely feels like it explores a diverse range of themes. You can see everything from design-led furnishing to talks and installations on hydrophobic farms. My “what to see” this year would definitely be the London Design Biennale: Emotional States at Somerset House. The last time we hosted the Biennale in 2016 is was one not to be missed so I have no doubt this year will follow in suit. This year it explores some of the biggest questions and ideas we are currently facing including pollution, sustainability and migration to name a few. Other than that I would have to say try and be everywhere and anywhere during London Design Week and absorb as much as you possible. can
Which personalities in the design world inspire you the most?
My most influential personalities would have to be Faye Toogood, Studio Furthermore and Fernando Mastrangelo. I have always referenced Faye Toogood within my research for her distinctive approach to materiality and experimentation when it comes to sculpture and objects. The handmade element to her work resonates with the rawness and irregularity I seek within my own practice. Studio Furthermore is a more recent duo that has inspired me through there craft-centric approach to design methods and research. Their design practice is a great example of process-driven making. And Fernando Mastrangelo (FM/S Studio) for his experimental sculptural objects cast in simple yet striking forms from a whole range of materials. I have followed the work of Mastrangelo for quite a few years now, what inspires me most is his consistency towards form, content and materials