Azusa Murakami and Alexander Groves have a knack for transforming trash into modern design treasure. The duo, known together as Studio Swine, combed beaches for plastic debris to create the Sea Chair, and their recent São Paulo collection offers a new take on the local vernacular made out of stuff destined for the bin.
The Britain-based duo spent five months in the vibrant city to produce the series, every element of which was inspired by, or formed from, these new surroundings. "We always research a place first to discover what resources they have that might be overlooked, or existing systems that we can connect," they tell Co.Design. Component parts were purchased from independent waste collectors who corral the "phenomenal amount" of aluminum and glass refuse, and pine off-cuts were sourced from a carpentry workshop.
Even production methods were tweaked. As it turns out, conventional recycling methods—where bottles are broken down into powder, mixed with new minerals, then brought to a boil—aren’t exactly energy efficient. Instead, Murakami and Groves eliminated a few steps, heating their bottles in a kiln to the perfect temperature for re-blowing.
In terms of aesthetics, Tropicalia was front and center: the essence of mid-century modernists like Joaquim Teneiro and Oscar Niemeyer, a taste of local fruits and flora, even a hint of shadows cast from palm fronds in the case of the lounge chair (the green bulbs are also a nod to Heineken, who funded the endeavor). I can’t get over how wonderful the standing lamp is, like something out of a strange fairy tale.
Ultimately, Murakami and Groves aren’t looking to spread a staunch message of environmentalism with their thoughtful work. "It’s more about provoking a feeling, rather than a thought," they say. "We hope to break the preconception that ‘green’ design will look ugly and frumpy. We want to make very desirable work with as little negative environmental impact as possible. And it’s a challenge we enjoy."