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Designer Spotlight: Cohda's Roughly Drawn Chair

Take leftover high-density polyethylene plastic (HDPE — that’s #2 plastic) like milk jugs and detergent bottles, give them to UK-based design team Cohda [www.cohda.com], and watch some pretty magical stuff occur. They run it through an industrial-looking “recycling” machine that they made themselves, and, in a Willy Wonka-esque transition, turn the plastic waste into perfectly functional, strikingly-designed chairs.

Unveiled earlier this year (and is in limited production) now, the RD4 — that’s Roughly Drawn — chair and RD4s — a stackable version — was one of the big hits at this year’s HauteGREEN design exhibition; check out this video from Core77 [www.core77.com] and more coverage at MoCo Loco [mocoloco.com]. The chairs themselves are neatly hand-woven from a bubble gum-like strand of material that gets spit out of the fabrication machine, making each one a bit different; no colors are added, so the black chairs come from recycled milk crates, green ones from green packaging waste, and so on.

According to the designers, who have done some math to calculate the savings that comes from recycling plastic rather than using virgin materials, the energy savings of the design in comparison to a virgin alternative equates to powering a 60 Watt light bulb for 1483 hours of continuous use — wow! The chair aims to view waste plastic packaging as a valuable resource as opposed to an ecological difficulty, utilize the embodied energy present in waste plastics as effectively as possible, and generate a new recycled design aesthetic, breaking from traditional flat-pack forms, while stimulating debate around recycling and the traditionally understood aesthetics of recycled products. Because it’s made from a single material, without further glues or binding agents, it can be recycled again without any bothersome separation.

Cohda has recently expanded their production to include some free-standing and pendant lighting, and we hear that it’ll become available soon, along with more details and pictures of the geometric, spider web-like pieces. We can’t wait! Until then, check out their site [www.cohda.com] for more.