“From waste to design” – Interwiew with Reform studio founders

carpets made of recycled plastic

© Reform studio

The founders of the Reform studio in Cairo, Hend Riad and Mariam Hazem, design furniture and objects made of used plastic bags. Or how design can transform waste into a noble raw material.

You work with a material that is particularly difficult to reuse, but abundant…

In Egypt, just like everywhere else, plastic bags are a major source of pollution. Two million plastic bags are handed out in the world every minute! And recycling them does not make any sense, in terms of energy or the environment.
We started to become interested in this subject in our last year in the faculty of Science and Applied Arts at the German University in Cairo. We decided to work on the possibilities of recycling this material, increasing its lifespan and preventing it from being disseminated. When we tried to transform plastic bags for reuse, we immediately saw the possibilities created by the skills of local craftspeople, especially those working in the field of weaving.

So that is where Plastex came from?

It was this connection between an environmental problem, traditional technologies and design that brought about the development of Plastex, an innovative material that is made by compressing plastic bags, rolling them and then weaving them into thin strips. By creating functional and decorative objects made of Plastex, waste is suddenly given a new and totally different life.

Reform, the name of your studio, shows how you want to make an impact on minds, as well as on objects ?

Our ambition is to make an environmental and a social impact by calling on ever-rarer artisanal skills, and to make an economic impact by giving work to women from underprivileged backgrounds. We also want to send out a message telling the story behind the objects we design. Egyptian society is changing, and design must contribute to this change.

                                  © Yasmin Kandil


The work or personality that has marked you the most:
The Saudi presenter and activist Ahmad al-Shugairi, whose TV show pleads for tolerance, open-mindedness and gender equality, with plenty of humour.

Recent news that has given you hope:
The opening of the new Suez Canal is just one of the symbols of the efforts being made in Egypt, and of the hope that continues to drive many people.

The phrase that you have adopted as your motto:
A phrase from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which defines design perfectly: “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

The question that keeps you awake at night:
Will the traditional skills we rely on survive?

Find this article in the first open_resource magazine: “How to make the climate change ?


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