Designers Turn Reclaimed Plastic Waste From Ocean Into Furniture

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 19 Jul 2020 17:22
Designers Turn Reclaimed Plastic Waste From Ocean Into FurnitureShutterstock/Studio Swine

Plastic has been ravaging our oceans for decades, littering the water and harming sea life. Now, designers have found the perfect way to reuse it.

Innovative designers are actively collecting plastic from seas and beaches so they can create contemporary furniture with it.


One pair to do so is Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami of Studio Swine; they became increasingly aware of the problem of plastics eight years ago while at university. At first, the pair started picking plastic waste from among the flatfish caught in boats’ nets in East Sussex, but now they largely gather the material from beaches as ‘it’s incredibly had to collect at sea,’ according to Groves.

ChairStudio Swine/YouTube

What was originally a degree project for the pair turned into a performance piece – something which has been viewed over 2.5 million times. The three minute video shows Groves and Murakami on a lugger boat, collecting the plastic, melting it down in a portable furnace, and moulding it to the shape of a chair, all while still on the boat.

Studio Swine have since used a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign to fund berths on the research vessel Sea Dragon, sailing from the Azores to the Canary Islands through the ‘north Atlantic garbage patch’ where millions of pieces of plastic gather, the Financial Times reports.


While they don’t mass produce the chairs and their work is largely in museums rather than peoples’ homes, Groves said their intention was to create ‘mass communication’ with their designs and raise awareness of the issue.

Someone else to use plastic from the ocean for furniture is Danish manufacturer Mater, who recently reissued the Ocean garden chair and table.

The original Ocean chair design was designed in 1955 and was made from plywood and steel. Dennie Ditzel, the daughter of the couple who created the original chair, licensed Ocean to Mater in 2018.


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Now, instead of plywood and steel, the chairs are made from plastic from used fishing nets and ropes that might otherwise have been dumped at sea.

ChairMater Design

According to the website’s description of the chair, the Ocean Collection combines ‘innovative solutions to prevent pollution of the world’s oceans,’ and is primarily intended for outdoor use.

Each Ocean chair uses around a kilo of waste plastic, while a table incorporates slightly more. Though a Mater ocean chair will set you back £234, I’d much rather have the plastic in my dining room than the ocean.


Many other brands, including Plastix, Bureo, and Patagonia have also found innovative ways to reuse plastic waste and turn it into something useful and reusable, from sunglasses and skateboards to caps and office furniture.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: Life, Now, Plastic


Financial Times
  1. Financial Times

    How plastic waste reclaimed from the ocean is transformed into furniture