Creating a Green World with Open Innovation

Published Jun-04-12

Competition to create new reusable furniture, artwork and accessories from scrap.

ScrapLab, Thailand

The Story:

Creating a Green World with Open Innovation The beauty of crowdsource design contests is that they provide a platform for creative types to showcase their talents, which can generate unique ideas and concepts at low cost that in some instances can help to save the planet too.

That was the case with the ScrapLab Design Contest held in 2011, a global call for innovative and sustainable designs made from scrap. The overarching objective was to recycle waste to create new products for the marketplace such as furniture and artwork.

According to the organisers the initiative aims at “using the principles of crowdsourcing and co-creation in order to promote social innovation for a better world and the protection of the environment”.

Professional designers, amateur designers and design students were encouraged to take part as well as anyone with an interest in recycling.

Design ideas could be photos, graphic visualisations or even prototypes and they were discussed and evaluated by an active and enthusiastic online community. These conversations were considered by the jury as it selected the contest winners. It was made up of design, sustainability and crowdsource experts and members based their decisions on the following criteria:

• Overall impression
• Creativity
• Elaboration of design
• Feasibility
• Sustainability

Innovative and Sustainable Designs

Overall, 621 designs were submitted and three winners were selected.

The first prize and a check for 1,000€ (approx. $USD 1,300) went to Barrel Armchair by Robert Pludra & Jakub Sobiepanek. Barrels of polythene that are used to transport liquids in the chemical industry are transformed into comfortable armchairs which are made by cutting and folding (no screws required). According to the jury the barrel armchair “...symbolizes the essence of ScrapLab and what the contest stood for. Transforming a durable industrial scrap material, that is difficult to recycle, into a piece of furniture that will last generations...”

The second prize and a check for 600€ went to Omtanke (English: Care, German: Umsicht) by Maria Bang. Glass bowls are made by cutting, grinding and sandblasting old wine bottles. There is no need for high temperature remelts which is an additional boon to the environment. The jury said that Omtanke “... is a very elegant and sophisticated design with inspiring aesthetics that make you want to touch it. On top of that, it no longer reminds of scrap...”

The third prize and a check for 400€ was awarded to Seatbelt Shoe by andytwentyfive. As the name suggests these are shoes (espadrilles) made from old seatbelts that are easily available from the scrap car industry. The jury statement read “...Its appeal lies in its distinctive look coming from the natural ornamentation, as well as the advantages of the durable material. This could be the inspiration for a new line of shoes.”

One Person’s waste is Another’s Treasure

In adopting a crowdsourcing approach the ScrapLab organisers hope that participants will join its non-profit ecology-minded community to help fulfil its mission of:

• Reducing waste disposal by reuse and upcycling
• Helping to protect the environment
• Creating awareness and understanding for the topic
• Educating about the value of "waste materials"

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