solar vase by Andrew Simpson
Andrew Simpson is an industrial designer and product engineer with his own practice Vert Design. He works on all sorts of design challenges, and is interested in ideas, transformation and sustainable materials.
Andrew began his formative years as a designer, blowing glass. You can see the blowing of a beautiful bubble-icious Vert Design glass globe lamp here Rediscovering old knotting techniques, the globe was then suspended with a rough net knotted out of cable, so that the power cord seems to merge with the net.
At the heart of Andrew’s designs is a desire to create work that is beautiful to look at, use and hold. His interest in the human side of design and deep respect for the planet ensures his designs connect with people and diminish environmental impact. He uses simple forms to bring pleasure to everyday objects and events; always finding new ways to create products that evoke feeling in his audience. His design motto is "elegance not novelty"
Andrew is showing his Solar Vase at the Supercyclers SOS: Supercycle Our Souls exhibition in Milan 2012. The sleek, elegant design looks like ordinary glass, but is actually made from recycled solar panels.
We caught up with Andrew in his Surry Hills studio to discuss design and supercycling.
Supercyclers: How have you seen the challenges of design and challenges for a designer change during your years of practice?
Andrew Simpson: I feel it is a really good time to be a industrial designer. This generation is really lucky. When I started as a designer there seemed to be a view in some sectors that the designers role was to make products simpler and cheaper, which marginalized designers and made them slaves to the accounts department. It was much more about doing than about thinking. Design thinking as a concept seems to have been a correction in the right direction. At its core, design is about asking why, and providing an answer that is culturally relevant. In business, the why has become increasingly more relevant than the ‘what’ or the ‘how’.
Andrew Simpson: I am a Sydney-sider and grew up sailing, surfing and rowing. The ocean has always been a big part of my life, so ocean waste is a huge thing to me. The ocean was once a pristine wilderness that hadn't been ruined, but now unfortunately it is not so. As designers, we make products that create waste, so we have to look at how we address that waste. At the moment I'm working on projects like how to collect and deal with waste from the ocean, which is currently being burnt. Looking at other ways of re-use of the product and how we do it.
Revolve Your World collect tonnes of bags of waste from remote beaches in Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. I'm working on a machine, The Plastic Eater, for them to sort and grind up the waste so that it becomes a commodity, and we're looking at what products can be made from the new material.
Revolve Your World: collected ocean plastic
Andrew Simpson: I love Max Lamb's pewter stool in terms of minimal impact. From the camping philosophy that you leave a place as it was when you arrived. When he leaves the beach, it is as it was, and he delivers it with an industrial process.
Andrew Simpson: I have always been a maker and a thinker, and as a kid I spent all my free time making things from wood or making surfboards. I did not know that an industrial designer was a thing you could be, but once I found out, that was all I wanted to do.
Andrew Simpson: If you can keep the knowledge and history of an object alive, then they will not become waste as readily. If things become culturally relevant, they possess cultural capital, and they have greater value than their material worth. It's about embodying value into objects. I recommend a book called 'Eternally Yours' that talks about this. If you record a story about a work, it increases its value, so it becomes immediate supercycling.
At this point, Andrew takes a swig of water from an old bottle he had discovered at his studio. Made in the 1920's, the bottle that would have once been discarded or recycled has taken on new life with all the memories and history attached as a contemporary water bottle. Everyday supercycling in action!