I am in love with smart design. It’s good to know that beautiful, useful objects can be created out of the kind of discarded trash that is strangling our planet. Such is true with PET Lamps, the remarkable work of Madrid-based designer Alvaro Catalan de Ocon.
After attending a 2011 pollution solution conference in Columbia at the invitation of psychologist-activist Helene Le Drogou, Ocon came up with an ingenious way of reusing the garbage that was choking the Amazon river. He designed pendant lighting made of recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) an uncommonly strong polymer resin that never breaks down and is used in everything from clothing fibers to food containers including the very plastic water bottles that are causing this environmental disaster.
Ocon returned to Bogot in 2012 and created a workshop for weavers who had been displaced by guerrilla war. The lamps were a hit – and due to their overwhelming success he expanded the project to work with artisans in Chile and now Africa.
The latest generation is the Abyssinia collection inspired by traditional African basket weaving designs and created by Ethiopian women who, like the those who came before, are also benefiting financially from their work.
Each lamp is handmade by weavingÂ together long, thin plastic strips around harvested wicker to create colorful and unique designs.
All 21 elements are then shipped back to Spain and assembled by Ocon at his Madrid studio.
Alvaro Catalan de Ocon’s PET Lamps are an extraordinary reminder that no problem is unsolvable when we focus our passion and expertise and kindness and desire on making the world a better place, one small project at a time.