Recycling as a tool of creative design

Katarína Lauková Zajíčková


Recycling in design activities has many forms. In its current understanding, it is related to ecological tendencies, however the spectrum of its applications indicates its abundant and rich cultural and historical roots. The multiplicity of its creative principles indicates a non-univocality and complexity of the topic.

It has the nature of individualised production when speaking about single product recycling. This indicates numerous controversial aspects. On one side, it provides total freedom to the designer, however, on the other side the quality of the final product represents the mastery and skills of the producer. The individualised production in Slovakia is done mainly in the form of prototypes. Here, the exchange of knowledge between individual producers is more or less zero.

In spite of the rich theoretical basis, represented by the current theories of sustainable design (Cradle to cradle, Biomimicry, Natural Capitalism) the creative production is spontaneous, without any clear rules. Publications and exhibitions are aimed at documentation and presentation of individual products without any effort to indicate the principles and goals of recycling. A deeper critical assessment of the used technology, origin of the used materials and the opportunities for the further recycling are missing as well.

Single product recycling incorporates apart from ecological aspects the possibility to establish the connection to cultural and regional memory, revival of trades at partial repairs or reconstructions. It also provides expression of remembrance values. Therefor it is important to broaden the understanding of such design and include the cultural, psychological and sociological studies that can provide a deeper knowledge of man in his position of a creator or consumer. This would no doubt evoke new solution for the controversial topics.

The recognition of the consumer´s divergent behaviour can be understood by deeper knowledge of psychology introduced into the design process. That may enable the designer to work in the way that would overcome the possible consumer barriers in acceptance of the product.

Today, it is no more possible to characterise recycling in product design as simple reuse of the previous product. Such definition would be imprecise and would not indicate the essence of this process. It also induces wide opportunities for incorrect interpretation of both artistic and designer works of art. It would also enable an undesired infiltration of abridged objects to be exposed on exhibitions pretending the ecological concept.

The many years of single product recycling practice provide opportunity for evaluation and summarization of the so far obtained knowledge. They also give us opportunity to avoid the negatives or further examine the non-homogenous aspects presented by real life.

Keywords: design, creation, recycling, user comfort, sustainability, research