As we will reveal in our Design Awards, out in Monocle’s forthcoming May issue, we are enamoured by the pioneering Tip Top Re chair from Swiss furniture brand Vitra. It’s not a new design; it’s a version of a Barber & Osgerby chair created a decade ago. But its rereleased form, made entirely from German plastic waste, points to a huge shift in the way we will view our products in the future. The material is made from recycled items such as yoghurt pots and comes in a cool grey, with speckles from the original waste remaining within the newly made plastic piece. Its look is imperfect and Vitra chose to embrace this rather than treating or bleaching the material.
These are the aesthetics that will define better design in years ahead, as we find ways to reduce waste, recycle more efficiently and make furniture with products that are less harmful. The patchworked garments of fashion brands such as Bode that draw upon offcuts from manufacturers’ floors are already pointing our eyes in this direction. The question is, can we live with this different aesthetic all around us in our homes and offices?
In a recent conversation with Vitra’s CEO Nora Fehlbaum for Monocle’s forthcoming edition of The Entrepreneurs magazine, she told me: “The aesthetics of a sustainable world will be different and hopefully we will come to the conclusion that this is a very attractive world.” The truth is, however, that if we want to live with the right products in the years to come, we’re simply going to have to get used to living with design that looks different.