As the worldwide waste disaster continues to develop yearly, so does the urgency to re-examine what goes into the world’s landfills and oceans, and discover extra sustainable approaches to waste era, supplies, and product life cycles. Pratt college students are inspecting alternatives and new concepts to handle these important points. This yr’s Materials Lab Prize acknowledges three college students whose current initiatives rethink supplies and gadgets/byproducts that may in any other case be thrown away and reuse them in new methods.
Based in 2020, Pratt’s Materials Lab is a collaborative analysis middle with assets and programming to advance the examine of design supplies at Pratt and assist college students acquire a fluent understanding of supplies. The annual Pratt Materials Lab Prize acknowledges distinctive scholar work that makes use of waste streams as a springboard for progressive design considering and materials exploration.
“At this stage of the worldwide local weather crises, it’s straightforward to really feel resigned, pessimistic, however many rising designers see a method ahead,” mentioned Jay Lemire, director of manufacturing, labs, and materials analysis within the College of Design. “Via analysis and iteration, these initiatives use the supplies we have now round us as the premise for experimentation looking for an utility. It’s startlingly sensible: we have now the supplies at house.”
The 2022 Materials Lab Prize was awarded to Charlotte Reiter, MID ’24, for her challenge “Gonecrete,” which conceived of a method to make use of pure starches from rice and corn to make a biodegradable different to concrete. Reiter’s analysis discovered that within the US alone, greater than 400 million tons of those broadly grown crops find yourself as waste, often in landfills. Asking what if that waste could possibly be become usable materials, Reiter went a step additional through the use of Gonecrete to create Terratile, a set of scalable tiles that can be utilized in ground or wall purposes in a variety of simply customizable patterns.
Artists, designers, and design professionals whose practices middle materials exploration and analysis made up this yr’s jury, which included Brooklyn-based artists and designers Thomas Barger and Joseph Algieri alongside educators and designers Garrett Benisch and Elizabeth Bridges, co-founders of OurCarbon.
The jury was particularly impressed by the Gonecrete challenge’s rigorous analysis course of and potential for a wide range of purposes. Bridges mentioned, “What I liked about [Charlotte’s entry] is that in contrast to lots of people in inside merchandise involved with sturdiness, this product shouldn’t be about that. It goes past that concept to rethink purposes in tons of locations for replaceable tiles and extra.”
The jury awarded an honorable point out to Emma Winick, MID ’24, for the challenge “Durafluff,” which transforms delicate upholstery filling supplies recovered from furnishings waste—solely 0.3% of which is at the moment recycled—into strong kinds that can be utilized to make modular furnishings that’s each sturdy and simply biodegradable.
Hsiao-Chien Hung, MID ’24, additionally obtained an honorable point out for “Paintdora,” a challenge impressed by when a good friend repainted her house. Hung questioned whether or not leftover paint is an issue, and located that just about not one of the 75 million gallons of unused paint within the US yearly will get recycled. Paintdora repurposes leftover paint into a cloth much like rubber or leather-based that can be utilized to create enticing gadgets of house décor, resembling a wall clock.
“These initiatives are tackling authentic environmental challenges and it might be thrilling to see them manufactured or managed at an industrial scale,” Algieri mentioned.
All of the submissions to the 2022 Materials Lab Prize can be found to discover on-line, in addition to the profitable 2020 and 2021 initiatives.