Dear Shaded Viewers, dear Diane.
I wasn’t sure about what I was seeing, and I am still not sure of what I really saw. While I entering the courtyard of the Atelier Clerici in Milan, there was a giant black organic looking structure on stage bathed in the sun. It was entertwined with some plants and a few design chairs next to it. I was intrigued by the structure, but did not immediately understand the material nor the functionality of this giant thing. Built entirely out of recycled materials, the structure was a bit frothy ; it seemed light, and the plastic of the structure was mat. I soon after discovered that this structure, a creation of Miniwiz, is actually an air cleaning device, a light fixture and a sound monitor. Miniwiz is a Taipei-based company building functional objects out of recycled material. Here, the Tetrapods are built with 100% post-consumer recycled materials, and the air purifier with bamboo charcoal can also be entirely recycled too . Using recycled plastic in buildings is a main focus for Miniwiz — some might say an obsession — for Taiwanese architectural firm Miniwiz Sustainable Development Co. Ltd.
The company also designed and built in 2010 what could be the largest structure in the world clad in recycled plastic: a nine-story exhibition hall in Taipei called the EcoArk_ the New Fashion Center_ with walls made of 1.5 million PET bottles covering a structure iron, (PET runs for polyethylene terephthalate AKA Plastic Bottles). Miniwiz is working on other buildings using recycled plastic, including the headquarters and factory for an electronic waste recycling company in Taiwan, Super Dragon Technology Co. Ltd. ; the building is constructed with waste polymers from discarded computers and other electronic waste.
Here, MINIWIZ and Philip Morris International (PMI) have also launched this new collaboration at Milano Salon del Mobile 2016, where I discovered this air cleaning and light fixture structure. Miniwiz created for Philip Morris the designer chairs presented near the air cleaning fixture, these chairs are unveiling a revolutionary new material made entirely of recycled cigarette filter butts !
They’ve used this new material to create a new edition of the 60’ italian designer Cesare Leonard and the material is simply outstanding. It is a bit like composite wood, it does not smell tobacco, it can be painted, treated, it has a true solidity and compacity that could replace wood in functional and design furniture. The story behind this amazing installation is IQOS, the join venture between Philip Morris and Japan Tobacco which were presenting IQOS an electronic smokeless cigarette filled with tobacco from their purest crops and without additives…
With the non smoking era, the health campaigns and electronic cigarettes, one can easily imagine that it has a substantial effect on the tobacco giants. With this new situation of global awareness, we can outline that economic aspects of capitalism is leading the worlds largest pollutors to provide solutions for the damage done. While expanding in new eco markets, these intentions appear not only as great communication tools, signs of resilience or calls for redemption, but finally as fruitful ideas and for all benefits.
In the end, I am not sure about what I saw, but I know that integrating recycling in architecture is actualy the largest and only application that could substantially contribute to damage control for a better world ! I also believe that the upside of this unexpected collaboration is to witness that not only new business leaders of the big corporations can also move in a reverse direction of damage control (while seeing profitable opportunities), but the most important is that there are enlightened engineers leading new companies like Miniwiz that actually thrive to build and remedy to our society of consumerism’s worse creation : garbage.