'Material Collective' exhibition showcases reimagined waste materials
In the “Material Collective” exhibition, artists have invented new types of sustainable materials using natural materials or waste, like seashells and plastic.
Currently being held at Gallery Moon of the Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) in central Seoul, it was curated by Studio newtab-22, a designer duo based in Seoul and London. The duo, comprised of Moon Ji-hee and Choi Hye-in, was specially chosen by the Seoul Design Foundation to take charge of the exhibition.
Four other designers or teams have also participated in the exhibition — Kim Ji-sun, Shin Tai-ho, Yoo Jun-kyung and Kim Su-jin, and Hyun Ji-won. These artists have a similar aim with Studio newtab-22 which is using old materials and reusing them so that they can serve new purposes.
The process of collecting raw or waste materials and how each designer team researched and developed the finalized material (mostly unique interior items) is on display along with explanations. Before that, however, the exhibition starts with a hands-on center where visitors can physically touch and feel the designers’ materials.
Studio newtab-22 focuses on creating a sustainable material made from wasted seashells, which has a concrete-like texture. Named “Project Sea Stone,” the material is then turned into interior items such as an incense holder or tiles.
In the exhibition, “Project Sea Stone” provides explanations on how there are over 30,000 tons of seashells discarded in Korea every year and how they are turned into new, reusable materials. The shininess of the seashells is an added touch to the material’s design.
“When I was younger, I lived near the ocean and I’d always seen seashells, like scallops, dumped along the shore,” Moon told the Korea JoongAng Daily. “I would bring them back to play with them, but later on when I studied sustainable design in Britain these seashells immediately came to mind. I started researching the problems they were causing after I learned that the shells’ calcium carbonate has so much potential [to be reused].”
For designer Kim Ji-sun’s “Poly Series,” Kim has successfully turned waste plastic into a sturdy and durable material.
Kim layers polyethylene and compresses it together using heat. The texture is similar to hanji, or traditional Korean paper, which is known to be tough and does not rip easily. Kim’s plastic-based recycled material can be turned into vases and lamps and comes in a variety of colors.
Other materials include those made from plastic bottles, resin, fiber and textile waste.
The rather small environment of the exhibition offers time for contemplation, especially for those who are concerned about the environment, or seek to pursue sustainability in their daily lives.
“Material Collective” runs until March 20. Gallery Moon of the DDP is open every day except Mondays, from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. The exhibition is free to all.
BY SHIN MIN-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]