The design firm Reform Studio from Cairo, Egypt has come up with a brilliant way to upcycle plastic bags. They are turning them into beautiful furniture using Egyptian handlooms and traditional techniques. The aim of the people behind the project is to find ways in which modern design can be used to solve the world’s problems, one of which is certainly the alarming surplus of plastic bags discarded every day. And what’s more, through their project they are keeping alive Egypt’s rapidly disappearing traditional practice of hand weaving.
They have achieved this by first turning the plastic bags into a material they call Plastex, which is made by weaving plastic bags. They start out by collecting discarded plastic bags, as well as bags which are defective, and turn them into long plastic strips. These are then strung on a handloom and woven by hand into fabric, which is the same color as the raw materials used to create it. In this way, the furniture has the look of being upcycled, yet still has a very modern aesthetic. They also say that the material is very durable, strong, washable and resistant to sand and dust.
At this time, they offer two lines of chairs, namely the Ahwa (coffee) collection, and the Grammy’s (as in Grandma) collection, as well as a number of other products made from Plastex. The furniture is available in six Cairo stores and one London store. There is no word yet on whether they plan to branch out into offering other types of furniture in the near future.
To further the positive impact of their project, 70% of their upcycling workforce is made up of women, while they also employ untrained workers which otherwise have a hard time getting hired.