Turning Plastic Waste into Coveted Works of Art

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or at least this is how Wild Studio chooses to look at it. A pioneering and sustainable Danish design studio that has put in motion a spirited initiative of recycled and upcycled plastic design furniture.

12 mins read

A lesson in Design, Conservation and Good Common Sense

Recycling, sustainability, ecological balance, biodiversity are all buzzwords in an increasingly aware world. What used to be an option is now a dutiful responsibility. Time, which is our best foot marker, links the present with the future and makes us realize that we’re not owners of this earth, but rather its mere depositories. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, or at least this is how Wild Studio chooses to look at it. A pioneering and sustainable Danish design studio that has put in motion a spirited initiative of recycled and upcycled plastic design furniture.

Photos Wild Studio Shop at The Comarché

This ingenious project arose from the sum of talent and respect that the founder and designer, Rosa Nøss Bendixen, holds for the environment and its natural resources. The company launched just shy of a year ago and it already boasts an impressive collection of 16 original aesthetic pieces. The furniture is crafted out of 100% polyethylene plastic waste from household products and industrial debris. The result is a totally unique and highly versatile piece that can be adapted to different rooms and areas both indoors and outdoors, in whimsical and playful styles aimed at adults and children alike.

Bendixen had never envisioned that packaging, bottles and daily use containers could become such artful commodities of sustainable industrial design. By creating with this common denominator, Wild Studio tries to look at recycling plastic with fresh new eyes, investigating what properties this material holds, and evaluating what shapes it could offer in return. Their moon-shaped silhouettes, one-of-a-kind colours and textures have succeeded at contouring a welcoming environment, making any place you display them in feel instantly uplifting and inspiring.

Their pieces are much more than just furniture: they represent the reflection of a titanic task to recover scraps and rubbles from the bottom of seas, oceans, and overcrowded local landfills. Disregarding the pain and damage we have caused Mother Earth would be just another turn of the screw. Thus, Wild Studio set out to prove that the concept of recycling has lost its pejorative tone, and we can finally move from a ‘take-make-dispose’ economy towards a circular business model that closes the loop.

Rosa Nøss Bendixen | Founder & Designer, Wild Studio | Photo Katrine Gøth

How did Wild Studio come to life for those unfamiliar with your journey?

It originally started with an idea to make furniture for institutions and public outdoor spaces. That’s where I’m still headed. I have worked as a landscape architect for a number of years, urban design in particular, and I felt that something was missing. I wanted to make something more fun, more colourful and more feminine. It was such an anti-sports, anti-Nordic project. The little Moon Child has just started selling to kindergartens.

The fact that it should be sustainable was only natural. It was probably almost a morally conscious choice. I could not imagine putting anything into production without sustainability being considered. It feels like we have collectively rediscovered nature now that we are afraid of losing it. It ignited some reflective thinking about what nature really is, what resources we have. As a landscape architect, you do not create nature, but you can give people a little bit of the feeling they draw from it.

What drives your creativity to design towards a more conscious, balanced and sustainable lifestyle? Where does your inspiration come from?

There is probably a general holistic approach to my projects. Preferably, they should all be connected. The Moon Collection is named after this celestial body because it keeps our earth in balance. It symbolizes a kind of feminine primordial force, something we may be in the process of rediscovering. I wanted to take it all the way out into the universe and embody the fundamentals.

I then connected it with my fascination for plastic as a material and turning waste into resource. Plastic is actually made from crude oil that consists of old sediments, which we then pull out of the ground and process. It is a completely wild operation for something that gets used just once before we throw it out. It is the ultimate disrespect for our land and its natural resources, and a symbol of our culture of over consumption. One could say that the very absurdity of the whole plastic anecdote can also be inspiring. With the Moon Collection, I try to appease Mother Earth a little bit by showing that everything can be beautiful – if only treated with respect.

How important is it to highlight the use of recycled and upcycled materials in your work, and how have you achieved this through your designs? What other guiding principles were there in creating the Moon Collection?

I’m really happy about this exact quality of the Moon Collection – that you can tell it has been recycled, that it had a past life. Sometimes you can even see small pieces of text on the surface because it was made out of used packaging. To me, this gives the design a poetic feel, almost like it is unfolding on its own. It is crucial to me that customers are attracted to my designs before they get to learn about my upcycling and sustainability practices. I place a high value on functionality and aesthetics, and I always strive for a kind of timelessness that I believe is also important in relation to sustainability. “These must be things you want to keep”, I demand of myself as a designer.

What was the process like in terms of searching for the best sustainable suppliers for your brand? What factors did you take into consideration?

It took time. It was really important to choose a Danish company that wasn’t too big. I needed someone who was willing to experiment a bit and who would take what I do seriously. The plastic industry is huge in Denmark and most recycling companies here are massive. There was a bit of a missing link there, but ultimately, I managed to find one I’m really happy about. It is a family-owned business with people who always keep moving forward and take pride in doing things the right way.

It gives me peace of mind to know that everyone on my production team is paid fairly and doing well. Human and social sustainability matter so much to me. I consider just as essential to use upcycled materials for my designs, as it is to produce them under proper working conditions.

Photo Wild Studio | Shop at The Comarché

Customers have never looked into what they’re buying more closely than today – yet somehow, lack of transparency is still the biggest pitfall for most companies. Why do you think this issue persists, and can you think of any area your brand could still improve?

My entire production chain is fairly local, based here in Denmark. The waste our products are cast from is Danish; often I know exactly what kind of packaging it used to be. Everything is produced one hour away from Copenhagen. The brass signs at the bottom are made in Nørrebro, one of the city’s neighbourhoods. So, my story is very straightforward and I feel that my customers react positively to it. But sustainability on a whole is very, very complicated and I don’t claim to have an answer for every- thing. It is a never-ending development and education of consumers, manufacturers and designers, which fortunately is well underway.

What are your personal favourite Wild Studio products and why should our readers be inspired to check them out?

I love them all, so it’s a little hard to say. But perhaps I want to highlight ‘Indigo Blue Moon Stool’ and ‘Indigo Blue Moon Child’. They both have a surface that resembles an abstract oil painting. There is a very special depth to them and I think they take recycled plastic to a whole new level. And on top of that, they consist primarily of household waste, which is very difficult to recycle. I’m really proud of that.

Other than a more sustainable tomorrow… what else do you dream of these days?

I know I should probably say something else, but I dream a lot of traveling – to be inspired, to find myself on an adventure, and to feel like a human being out in the world again.

Acumé Magazine met Bendixen for a talk on how she applies sustainability to other areas of her life and the dreams she holds for the future.
See full video here >

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