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Design: The Other Ocean Plastics

 We are on a mission to turn the discarded plastic drinks bottles that litter our oceans and beaches into beautiful swimshorts.  But, what about the rest of the plastic that washes up on our shores?  The multicoloured array of different plastics, from nurdles through household items to whole large fishing crates, that form a toxic rainbow along the strandline?  Thankfully, others are also addressing the issue of ocean plastics and are finding ways to turn that colourful plastic waste into beautiful items. 

London’s Somerset House is currently hosting the London Design Biennale (7-27 September) and the Australian pavilion, titled Plastic Effects, is currently displaying designer Brodie Neill’s beautiful Gyro Table – a terrazzo effect design made using ocean plastics.  

Tiny pieces of plastic were collected from beaches around the world, including from Neill’s native Tasmania, Hawaii and Cornwall, by an international network of volunteers before being cleaned, graded and sorted by colour.  It was then processed into a new plastic composite with the coloured chips producing an effect very similar to terrazzo walls or flooring made using crushed marble or granite, but with recognisable plastic elements such as the serrated edge of a bottle top still occasionally visible.  Inspired by the colours of the oceans, Neill’s Gyro Table has a white centre that blends through darkening shades of blue to an almost black rim, as if diving from a foam-streaked surface to the inky depths.

detail of the plastic terrazo effect of Brody Neill's gyro table made using recycled ocean plastics on display at the 2016 london design biennale

The theme of the London Design Biennale is Utopia by Design and Neill’s exhibit in the Australian pavilion will study man’s impact on nature through an immersive exhibit inspired by the ocean currents and gyres that transport and consolidate the plastics that litter the marine environment.

You can view the Gyro Table at Somerset House until September 27th.

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