Course Blog

Materials that live, and die.

Plastic bag floating underwater at Pulau Bunaken


We live in a planet with finite resources and a sensitive ecosystem. Yet, we keep producing waste of all sorts, and some of it will never degrade itself. While it is common knowledge that the situation is alarming, there are no palpable solutions in the forefront. In fact, just a few days ago, the Doomsday Clock has been moved to two minutes before midnight, and while it regards both nuclear threat and climate change, it hasn’t been that close since 1953.

Due to the urgent character of the situation, creative industries attempt to respond to the challenge, and one of various examples is how designers reuse plastic waste as new forms of material, such as in Neill’s Gyro Table, or Starck’s Broom chair. Whereas the rationale behind these products is valuable, it is non-feasible that all non-degradable waste will eventually be repurposed as design pieces once day. We should not have to pick up waste and make products out of it, but rather not produce any permanent waste at all.

In a context of landfills in developing countries and plastic waste imports, it is imperative that we stop producing non-degradable materials. Our responsibility towards our planet should not only come from our consumption behaviours, but actually start with our production methods.

These are the main reasons why our group is interested in the idea of living materials that can disappear once their purpose has been fulfilled.

The idea of introducing death to living materials, and consequently to the goods they compose, can raise many questions. What kind of products would be produced? When and how should they die? Do they have a life expectancy? Are they effectively “killed”? If so, who pulls the trigger? What are the social and ethical implications around it?

Although our concept can raise many others questions, other than aforementioned ones, we like to imagine the possibility of living in a world where the likes of packaging, obsolete technology, or anything else that has no use or value should not exist.

If this theory were to become a reality, the world would dramatically change, not only in economical and environmental terms, but also in the way we value and interact with the items that surround us. We like to believe that like living beings, materials should die.




Koran, L. (2018). ‘Doomsday clock’ ticks closer to apocalyptic midnight. [online] CNN. Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2018].

Brodie Neill. (2018). Gyro Table, 2016 – Brodie Neill. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2018].

Moore, Z. (2018). Broom Chair by Philippe Starck for Emeco | Dezeen. [online] Dezeen. Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2018].

Laville, S. (2018). Chinese ban on plastic waste imports could see UK pollution rise. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 13 Feb. 2018].