Students of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design recently formed teams with local rising designers to design a series of eight benches with the core theme of upcycling, echoing the "50+20 Agenda – Renewing Business Education in Asia" Conference on sustainability previously held on 16 & 17 July. The benches, which symbolise conversation and co-creation, provided seats to the conference participants and are now displayed at Jockey Club Innovation Tower, home of School of Design (SD).
The collaborative project was initiated for the "50+20 Agenda – Renewing Business Education in Asia" Conference, co-presented by School of Design, Faculty of Business, and Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative (GRLI). Central to the “50+20” vision is the philosophy of the collaboratory which promotes the concept of co-creating viable solutions on equal terms by different members of a community or stakeholders on a particular issue. In order to visualise and concretise this new paradigm of joint learning, research and problem-solving, the 50+20 vision is brought to life using a circle of benches - collaboratory benches. Supporters of 50+20 are creating and installing collaboratory circles at global locations to inspire dialogues about a shared future. The first collaboratory benches were displayed and used at the RIO+20 Earth Summit in 2012.
Students participated in this bench project came from the disciplines of Product Design, and Environment and Interior Design. They were tutored by the rising young design talents, Dorophy Tang, KaCaMa Design Lab, Monica Tsang and Studio MIRO. The eight benches were constructed from recycled and reclaimed materials like bamboos from construction sites, abandoned dim sum steamers, plastic bottles, unclaimed carpets after exhibitions, damaged tires, unwanted old VHS tapes, and old blackboards. The creations in representation of practicality and the philosophy of “50+20” extend an invitation to connect, to talk, and to share.
Tutor: Dorophy Tang
Design Team: Kwok Sze Man, Terri Lee, Nicole Mok, Carmen Yeung
Bench #1: Water Bottles Bench – Plastic Scaffolding
Plastic bottles consume lots of energy and non-renewable resources. They take up spaces in landfill tremendously. Their non-degradable nature causes environmental problems on the land, in the sea and in the air.
The concept of this bench was inspired by the usage of bamboo material in traditional Chinese furniture, and also Bamboo Scaffolding, which is a unique construction method practiced in Hong Kong. We simulate the scaffolding structure by engaging the plastic bottles in the same way.
The bounciness of the plastic bottles has the quality of an air-bag, they become desirable seat-materials.
Bench #2: Water Bottles Bench – The Shell Of Plastics
As the designers were exploring the possibilities brought by the curvy form of the plastic bottles, they attached the bottles to a plastic net and arranged the bottles with different volumes to alter the form to achieve ergonomics of a bench with comfortable back rest and seats.
The team collected the PET bottles from Yan Oi Tong Ecopark Plastic Resources Recycling Centre. They followed up by cleaning them and preparing them to be reusable.
Tutor: KaCaMa Design Lab
Design Team: Ray Cheung, Ranger Hui, Ivy Tai, Josie Wong
Bench #3: Seesaw Bench
The team got an initial idea of lifting and lowering, and focused on the interaction between people sitting on a bench which acts as a “booster” facilitating interpersonal communication. Then they started to look for tires for its features of bending and rotation. Several car repairing shops gave them the damaged tires and the materials are ready for the making after cleaning and transformation.
Tires do have a dynamic image. When it matches with a see-saw idea, a new meaning is given.
Bench #4: Carpet Bench
The design arises from the desire to create a bench which allows people to find their own way of arranging seats for easier communication. It breaks the convention that benches are usually designed for seating in one direction. Users can sit side by side like sitting on any common type of a bench, or pull a seat away from the other part of the bench to allow face to face communication. The side back design allows one’s privacy that people can turn aside from others.
Seeing tons of exhibition carpet waste being dumped into landfill, the team came up with a way to make use of the waste product in which its flexibility to create different forms fits the feature of the bench.
Tutor: Monica Tsang
Design Team: Elvis Leung, Jolly Yan, William Kwan, Derek Leung
Bench #5: Blackboard Bench
Monica’s team picked collective memories as the theme of two benches they designed. One of them is made of abandoned blackboards.
Blackboard is the most symbolic item at schools and forms an important part of our collective memories. However, some studies revealed that chalks are harmful to our respiratory system, whiteboard and marker replaces the blackboard and chalk in recent years. To arouse the memories of people's carefree and happy school life, the team collected the abandoned blackboards from schools and made a bench.
Bench #6: VHS Tape
VHS cassette was once a significant item in 1970s. It is no longer used and becomes part of the collective memories of the old generation. Due to the technology advancement, some old goodies like radios, black discs music players and tape recorders which provided great enjoyment in the 60s and 70s have been fading in recent decades and replaced by optical discs and computers. Still, there are people keeping the VHS cassettes as souvenirs of the old days.
The non-degradable VHS cassette tape is sleek, black and simple. It contributes to a good material for weaving into seats.
The inspiration sparkled from what laid nearby. The team found the bamboos left behind from the scaffolding of Jockey Club Innovation Tower. The bench is made with a basic structure and put together with a knotting system the designers learnt from the scaffolding builders.
Bench #8: Zhēnglóng
Yum cha plays an important part in Hong Kong culture. It might even be the only time in a week where family members gather and talk to each other. A bamboo steamer is essential to great dim sum. Yet, every four to six months, they are replaced with new ones. In light of this, the team collected the old steamers which made the Zhēnglóng Bench from Hunghom. The steamers were carefully cleaned and put together to get a second life.