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Sustainable Furniture by 5th Column: Office Workstations for Start-ups:Baroda-based 5th Column makes furniture from recycled materials, for those who like to reshape their workspace every few months!

Jaymin Panchasara and Vivek Prakash

The Vadodara-based 5th Column team is made up of Abhay Panchasara (Director & Head – Architecture Design), Jaymin Panchasara (Head – Furniture & Product Design Division) and Vivek Prakash (Product Design).

From a DIY experiment to a sustainable solution using one of the most common wastes of our present civilisation - Plastic. 5th Column’s Office Furniture For Startups

MCB wiring

Expanding on the home oven idea, they built their own heat press to make custom plastic sheets suited for the tabletop they had in mind.

Controller

Heating Coils

Assembling Prototype Table
Packaging Prototype Table

Executed with a sleek minimal look, the tables can be stand-alone units or connected to create longer work spaces without losing electrical connectivity with their plug points on either side of the unit. Added to this they are lightweight and durable.

An example of a deformed sheet from phase 2.

Application: Automobile
Application: Cupboard Facade
Application: Bathroom
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Lab 15 Apr 2017

Affordable Furniture For Start-Ups by 5th Column

What started out as a requirement for themselves, soon transformed from a DIY experiment to a sustainable solution using one of the most common wastes of our present civilisation - Plastic. 5th Column’s Office Furniture For Startups has even been shortlisted for the 2017 edition of Godrej Design Lab.

Hailing from a “hands-on-work family” of carpenters and builders and renowned design schools of India, the Vadodara-based 5th Column team is made up of Abhay Panchasara (Director & Head – Architecture Design), Jaymin Panchasara (Head – Furniture & Product Design Division) and Vivek Prakash (Product Design).

Sustainable Furniture by 5th Column: Office Workstations for Start-ups:Baroda-based 5th Column makes furniture from recycled materials, for those who like to reshape their workspace every few months!

Jaymin Panchasara and Vivek Prakash

The Vadodara-based 5th Column team is made up of Abhay Panchasara (Director & Head – Architecture Design), Jaymin Panchasara (Head – Furniture & Product Design Division) and Vivek Prakash (Product Design).

Inspired by Dave Hakkens of Precious Plastics, 5th Column decided to attempt creating custom office tables for themselves by melting waste plastic. The development of their final plastic sheet can be traced back to 3 major phases. First, a series of experiments in domestic Home Ovens; second, creating their own large scale Heat Press; and third, designing their final Oven and achieving the desired result.

From a DIY experiment to a sustainable solution using one of the most common wastes of our present civilisation - Plastic. 5th Column’s Office Furniture For Startups

They started by sourcing the waste plastic from various local vendors, segregating the materials based on type of plastic as well as colour, shredding this plastic to granules and then melting it using a baking tray lined with baking paper in their very own domestic home oven. They baked it for 30 minutes with a weighted metal surface acting as the press plate on top to get a flat sheet. Soon, the home oven proved to be insufficient as it became difficult to create a homogenous texture with a glossy surface.

Expanding on the home oven idea, they built their own heat press to make custom plastic sheets suited for the tabletop they had in mind. This phase was full of complications around heat issues and thickness management. “As the heat press did not have cooling system inside, the average time taken to bake one sheet at 200 Celsius is an hour, cooling taking about 2 hours. During the first experiment, after reaching the optimum temperature, the melted plastic started to come out from the edges… [while] removing the sheet from the metal plate, we noticed that the temperature inside was still high, [creating] a deformed sheet. We also noticed that some of the patches of the sheet got stuck to the metal surface.

MCB wiring

Expanding on the home oven idea, they built their own heat press to make custom plastic sheets suited for the tabletop they had in mind.

Controller

Heating Coils

Assembling Prototype Table
Packaging Prototype Table

Executed with a sleek minimal look, the tables can be stand-alone units or connected to create longer work spaces without losing electrical connectivity with their plug points on either side of the unit. Added to this they are lightweight and durable.

Learning from phase 2 after careful analysis, the final phase was one of monitored experiments. It was after many a tense trials and enlightening errors that they were able to consistently achieve sheets of even thickness and glossy texture. The final sheets were made from 2nd and 3rd grade Recycled Polypropylene, material used for things like garden chairs. 5th Column shares that the result was an “equal contribution from the machine and hand craftsmanship” where each sheet is unique with its own story to tell.

An example of a deformed sheet from phase 2.

The reason why 5th Column chose plastic is because its applications are endless, especially since it’s water repellent. Since plastic is not biodegradable, both the raw material and the finished product can be remoulded and adapted for furniture, bathroom, cladding, cupboard facia and even automotive interiors. Plus, the surface can be refinished and coated as desired.

Application: Automobile
Application: Cupboard Facade
Application: Bathroom

Having made the prestigious shortlist for 2017 edition of Godrej Design Lab, this year will be dedicated to fine-tuning the prototype Oven, making it market ready for mass production with mentorship and funding. The possibilities of an Oven like this are endless. It can even be used to create new products from everyday household items such as PET Bottles (Polyethylene Teraphthalate) and Plastic Carry Bags (Polyethelyne). The key is to keep in mind the heating and cooling temperatures for even textures. One can even experiment and thermoform it into different 3d forms, since the base material is easy to shape. 

Beyond the bonus points of being environmentally friendly, what makes 5th Column’s design special is the functionality of the product. Executed with a sleek minimal look, the tables can be stand-alone units or connected to create longer work spaces without losing electrical connectivity with their plug points on either side of the unit. Added to this they are lightweight and durable. 

5th Column hopes to enable “acceptance of such recycled materials into our daily lives, [something that] might be a step in pushing the smaller dominoes for a gradual, but bigger change”.

You can check out all their work so far at their Website and follow them on Facebook to stay updated.