Wellington, New Zealand
Best Design Awards Winner
Highly Commended Award in Sustainability
Digitally Crafted is a series of 3D printed upcycled baskets repurposed from soft plastic bags and flax waste within the Aviation Tourism Industry. These products are an output of a research portfolio submitted to Victoria University of Wellington in fulfilment of a Master's Degree in Design Innovation.
Currently, the lack of composting and recycling infrastructure for ‘better’ alternatives is creating limitations for efficient waste disposal within New Zealand. As ‘non-recyclable’ plastics (such as 3-7 identification codes) are being phased out, limited recycling solutions are accessible, as a result, these plastics are thrown straight into a landfill. The introduction of a 3D printed upcycling system can reutilise unwanted waste, gain control of the material life-cycle and repurpose resources into higher-quality products using narratives and identity.
Troublesome materials such as Air New Zealand’s soft plastic bags and harakeke (flax) from the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, were selected and collected to upcycle through 3D printing. The soft plastic and flax filament combination produced a natural, organic-looking material quality connecting indigenous materials to contemporary production and reuse. The visual and tactile qualities of the designs are reminiscent of traditional Māori weaving aesthetics; however, they are crafted in a completely different and modern way. The baskets celebrate imperfection and age with grace as they change colour from an organic green to natural brown over time. Additionally, due to the uniqueness of each flax strip, every print and layer has differences in pigmentation. These design elements collectively, celebrate New Zealand's national identity and form connections between our Bi-cultural country.
Digitally Crafted is originally designed for individuals to customize within the Air New Zealand Airpoints store. Through an online interface and on-demand 3D printing, it enables basket forms and surface textures to be adapted by the individual, producing bespoke products with every print. Consumer involvement in the design process builds positive customer relationships, giving individuals a chance to express their identity and be a part of sustainable practices.