Trashion Design – An unrecoverable waste of time

‘Trashion’ is a heretofore coined and established word, with gazillions of eco-green sites making full employment of it. I’ve already posted my screed on ‘green’ design (read here). You can Google ‘trashion chair’ or ‘recycled material chair’ and you’ll get bottomless results of furniture jerrybuilt from supposedly recycled: corks, bottle caps, plastic bags, canvas bags, rope, road signs, skis, skateboards, CD’s, clothing, furs, plushie toys, pvc pipe, rolled up newspapers, etc., etc..

Recipe: Take a generous helping of ‘trash’ (though you can cut-up brand-new stuff and pretend it’s trash in order to tell a noble lie and prove a point (because where else are you going to get 500 of exactly the same kind of ‘trash’ uniform and clean enough to present?). Next, find some overused pre-existing furniture design that strikes the right balance between platitudinous & pretentious, such as Breuer’s ‘Wassily’ chair. Third, replace whatever elements you can in the original with the ‘trash’ you’ve collected. Finally, strike a pose and feel really, really good about the way your tokenism and unoriginality has ‘saved the planet.’ Expect mild applause from other insecure people looking for approval from one another. If no applause is forthcoming, then the usual self-congratulations will do.

I mock all but the man who did it first (not counting the countless poor peasants who built their furniture from recycled materials out of necessity and without the thought of reducing their carbon footprint or approbation from the eco-design community), and that originator of the idea was Gaetano Pesce, the Italian ‘madman’ of design who pushed the envelope in his daring design explorations. Contemporary design owes him a great debt, and he is rightly admired for his hands-on experimentalism and free-thought. In the early 70′s, he was melting down plastic and playing with its plasticine properties, with some very unique results. In the late 70′s, he was forming chairs from discarded clothes.

Then, in the 80′s and 90′s, the recycled materials schtick was repeated again and again, with subtle variations and increasing iterations, each design-hack vying with the next, trying to squeeze out some new, not-yet-done twist on a twist on an increasingly tired theme, until the hair was split so many times in so many ways, only splitting atoms would be next. So, at this point, nearly 40 years after the original point was made, why is anyone *still* giving a crap about it, let alone trying to make us believe it’s new-worthy? Is it amnesia or some other form of brain damage? Is it willful ignorance of the last 40 years of identical gimmickry? Is it a zombie-like reprise of movement that persists long after the design-soul is dead? … hard to say… But, those who keep producing the same gag over and over again should, at this point in time, solely be the subject of interest to neurologists or theologians, not to designers.

Please, when encountering these ghouls, do not make eye-contact, just ignore. Make no encouraging signs whatsoever! If necessary, politely tell them they are urgently needed for consult by the Nobel committee, South Pole chapter, and to leave the country immediately. Place requisite ‘kick me’ sign on the back when sending the fool off on his errand.

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