Designers Turn Plastic Trash into Treasures (Photos)

In this picture taken on Thursday, April 11, 2019, designer Piet Hein Eek poses next to his creation 'Electronic Man', made with recycled plastic pieces of variuos electronic devices, during the 'RO Master's Pieces exhibition', on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

MILAN (AP) — Scientists and environmentalists have long warned about the dangers of plastic pollution, especially now that plastic trash of all types is choking the world’s rivers and oceans. High-end designers have responded by “upcycling” discarded objects into unique, desirable design pieces.

One Milan art expert has launched an initiative dubbed Guiltless Plastic on the sidelines of Milan’s premier Furniture Fair design showcase, commissioning one-of-a-kind pieces made by top designers from discarded plastic and hoping to inspire a wider movement.

Gallerist Rossana Orlandi has curated an exhibition titled “RO Plastic — Master’s Pieces” of original objects crafted from plastic trash by such luminaries as Australian designer Brodie Neill, Italian Piero Lissoni and Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek.

In this picture taken on Thursday, April 11, 2019, designer Tiziano Vudafieri poses under to his creation ‘The Wilhem Lamp’, made of recycled polycaronate, during the ‘RO Master’s Pieces exhibition’, on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

The goal is to bring attention to the potential to transform and repurpose recycled plastic, some reclaimed directly from the sea.

Patricia Urquiola, a Spanish designer based in Milan, made a “Wasting Time Daybed,” from upcycled plastic. The base of the daybed is created from an agglomerate of colorful recycled PET plastic. Its body, backrest and arms are made from recycled drinking bottles and the piece is covered with blue and gray post-consumer textiles.

Urquiola said she wants to help upcycling grow into a sustainable system “in a playful but also provoking way.”

“There is no such thing as waste, because time only knows reinvention,” she said.

In this picture taken on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, Italian gallerist Rossella Orlandi sits on Spanish designer Nacho Carbonell’s chair ‘Re-evolution’, made with recycled plastic from packaging for the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition, on the sidelines of Milan’s Furniture Fair, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Friday, April 12, 2019, German designer Alexander Schul poses with his creation, ‘Sobstantial Chair’, made from sheets of recycled plastic, high impact polystyrene, and used yoghurt containers, at the Rossana Orlandi gallery in Milan, Italy. Schul won the ‘Design’ category of the “Plasic Prize” design competition organized by the Rossana Orlandi gallery. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Wednesday, April 17, 2019, Design artistic director Barnaba Fornasetti poses in front of a paravent folding screen ‘Fornasettiana Remix’, made with regenerated polystyrene, for the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition, on the sidelines of Milan’s Furniture Fair, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Friday, April 19, 2019, Italian designer Massimiliano Locatelli lies on a sunbed made with upcycled plastic bottles, called ‘Anonymous Design Beach lounger’, for the the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition, on the sidelines of Milan’s Furniture Fair, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Thursday, April 11, 2019, Spanish designer Fernando Mastrangelo poses sitting on his creation ‘Tombstone Chair’, at the National Museum of Science and Technology, for the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition, on the sidelines of Milan’s Furniture Fair, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Sunday, April 14, 2019, designer Lucio Micheletti poses next to his creation ‘Victory’, made with maple wood and recycled plastic from bottles and containers, at the National Museum of Science and Technology, during the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition, on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Saturday, April 13, 2019, Australian designer Brodie Neill poses next to his creation ‘”Capsule: Ocean Plastic Hourglass”, on a table made with his self-created Ocean Terrazzo material, made with plastic waste from oceans, at the National Museum of Science and Technology, during the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition’, on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Friday, April 12, 2019, Italian photographer Maurizio Galimberti, poses next to his creation made with Polaroid unused cartridges, at the National Museum of Science and Technology, during the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition’, on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Saturday, April 13, 2019, Italian designer Fabio Novembre poses sitting on his ‘Jolly Roger’ chair, made with upcycled plastics, at the National Museum of Science and Technology, during the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition’, on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Friday, April 12, 2019, from left, designers Piero and Francesco Lissoni pose next to their creation set consisting of a set of bowl, a vase and a lamp, made with upcycled plastic, at the National Museum of Science and Technology, during the “RO Plastic – Master’s Pieces” exhibition’, on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
In this picture taken on Thursday, April 11, 2019, designer Tiziano Vudafieri poses under to his creation ‘The Wilhem Lamp’, made of recycled polycaronate, during the ‘RO Master’s Pieces exhibition’, on the sidelines of the Salone del Mobile International Furniture Fair week, in Milan, Italy. Scientists and environmental activists have been long raised the alarm on plastic pollution. Now, the high-end design world is getting in on the growing global effort to tackle plastic pollution — by upcycling discarded objects into desirable one-off design pieces. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)

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