‘Gyrecraft’ is a new project by radical design practice, Studio Swine, in which they have transformed plastic pollution found at sea into a collection of luxury objects.
The title derives from a combination of the word ‘Gyre’ (circular currents in an ocean basin where plastic pollution concentrates) and two distinct meanings of the word ‘Craft’: skill, dexterity and art – and also a vessel in which you sail.
‘Gyrecraft’ was the focus of an expedition across the North Atlantic Ocean, undertaken by Studio Swine co-founders, Alexander Groves and Azusa Murakami in the autumn of 2014. They embarked on a journey of 1000 nautical miles, collecting plastic on the way from Azores to the Canaries through the North Atlantic Gyre. In order to transform this plastic flotsam and jetsam into luxury, desirable objects, they invented and built their own Solar Extruder, which melts and extrudes sea plastic using the sun.
In the swirling gyre, most of the plastics break down into tiny fragments that are spread over massive stretches of the ocean. In the Gyrecraft collection, Studio Swine uses sea plastic as a valuable and desirable material reminiscent of turtle shell and corals. The five objects represent the five major ocean gyres. The aim is to use plastic in a more artisan, innovative way, which adds value to an undesirable material while drawing attention to the prevalence of a largely invisible problem throughout the world’s oceans.
The project was also an exploration into maritime crafts, which utilize what the sea provides in every coastal or island culture around the world, each with its own unique identity. Traditionally, many of these crafts took place on board during long voyages as a way of making vital repairs or simply passing the time at sea. For example, inspired by ‘Scrimshaw’ a traditional maritime craft of the Azores islands -the art of etching drawings onto whale’s teeth – Sudio Swine has created a whale’s tooth made of plastic collected from the sea using the machine.
Gyrecraft is the intersection of the dwindling and under-valued heritage of local maritime crafts and the rapid rise of sea plastic pollution. The project is currently on show at Selfridges & Co in its Ultra lounge gallery as part of the store’s Project Ocean campaign, which is focused on entirely removing plastic bags and single-use plastic water bottles from its store. The show is on until the end of August.