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Micaella Pedros

Photographs by Marian Alonso, 2017.

Humanitarian and Democratic design

A social and humanitarian designer based in London, Micaella Pedros obtained her Master’s Degree in Design Product at the Royal College of Art in 2016.

Wood and Plastic

Widely available in cities, often discarded, wood and plastic bottles became the perfect combination of materials for Micaella. Often, they are found as waste. Micaella saw an opportunity to reclaim these materials and that’s how Joining Bottles was born.

Celebrating DIY design

Micaella developed her practice and philosophy that focuses on do-it-yourself mechanisms while she was volunteering in Uganda in 2014 and during her travels in Guatemala in 2015.

Composing a technique

The technique itself can be adapted to various shapes and found materials. In this case, the wood and plastic dictate the composition of the work.

Employing the concept of Joinery

Joinery is a part of woodworking that involves joining pieces of timber or lumber to produce complex items. In her project ‘Joining Bottles’, Micaella takes the process forward by using plastic as a binding material.

Taking experiments ahead

Her philosophy helps separates objects from just being consumption driven artefacts, ensuring that they are harnessed as tools for creation, empowering not only the makers, but also the materials.

Harnessing the power of democratic design

“The do-it-yourself movement is about shifting from passive admiration and acknowledgement to active learning and interaction,” says Micaella.

Transcending Limitations

The technique Micaella employs is about being a resourceful problem-solver. It has enabled her to go beyond the apparent limitations of materials or objects.

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Lab 24 Dec 2017

Plastic and wood meet to create furniture in Micaella Pedros’ Joining Bottles project

During her studies and research in Design Product at the Royal College of Art, 2016, Micaella Pedros began working on the concept of ‘native technology’ as result of an interest in the importance of culture in international development. The idea of a native technology stems from technology born out of a specific place while utilising local resources, culture and energy to materialise. Building on this, Micaella’s practice is a combination of do-it-yourself design, experimentation and empowerment through the usage of existing materials.

Micaella believes that everything we need is already in our surroundings. “I believe waste, is just a state, a perception,” she expressed. Using existing objects and resources, she hopes to highlight the potential of things within our reach. ‘Joining Bottles’, one of her many explorations is based on the same philosophy and is an experimental wood-joining technique that upcycles and uses shrunk plastic bottles as a wood bonding material.

Her philosophy helps separates objects from just being consumption driven artefacts, ensuring that they are harnessed as tools for creation, empowering not only the makers, but also the materials.

Micaella Pedros

Photographs by Marian Alonso, 2017.

Scavenging for Design

Found materials became a part of Micaella’s creative process during her student years. Elucidating, she says, “Having limited money taught me how to be resourceful.” Self-identifying as a designer-scavenger, ‘Joining Bottles’ is an authentic manifestation of Micaella’s belief in democratic design. She furthers this by also conducting workshops in order to empower more people to create these objects with their own hands.

Humanitarian and Democratic design

A social and humanitarian designer based in London, Micaella Pedros obtained her Master’s Degree in Design Product at the Royal College of Art in 2016.

London, where she is based, is an open field of endless material opportunities. In fact, it is from the streets of London that she procures materials for ‘Joining Bottles’. Taking her bike out for a ride or walking around the streets is part of material scouting, along with plastic bottles preserved by friends who enjoy contributing to her project.

Wood and Plastic

Widely available in cities, often discarded, wood and plastic bottles became the perfect combination of materials for Micaella. Often, they are found as waste. Micaella saw an opportunity to reclaim these materials and that’s how Joining Bottles was born.

“I believe waste, is just a state, a perception.”

Carving the Concept 

Starting from material exploration, like many of Micaella’s projects, ‘Joining Bottles’ too involved a lot of hands-on experiments. While working with a few options, she decided to pour some melted resin on a plastic bottle. Watching it shrink triggered a nostalgic moment, “I recalled a childhood experiment where we poured hot water into a plastic bottle. I knew then that it could shrink more.” 

Since she was also finishing a project about joinery, she decided to fuse the two. Joinery is a part of woodworking involving joining various pieces of wood to produce complex items. The wood joints often employ bindings or adhesives. Here, Micaella uses plastic to join the wood.

Celebrating DIY design

Micaella developed her practice and philosophy that focuses on do-it-yourself mechanisms while she was volunteering in Uganda in 2014 and during her travels in Guatemala in 2015.

Composing a technique

The technique itself can be adapted to various shapes and found materials. In this case, the wood and plastic dictate the composition of the work.

 

However, arriving at the technique was not a seamless process. Core to Micaella’s practice are the glitches and failures that help her learn and design better adaptations. 

Initially the focus was on the organic transformation of plastic and its interaction with materials, but later the strength of the joint became central to its understanding. “I then understood that by carving the wood, I can strongly lock the plastic, so I started with the stool,” Micaella said, elaborating on the process which revolves around shrinking the plastic around wood using a hot gun in order to lock them together. The technique takes advantage of the thermal property of polyethylene terephthalate, the material used for bottled water and sodas which are produced, consumed and disposed in plenty, every day across the world. Though Micaella began with a stool, she has opened up endless possibilities – from table lamps to shelving units.

Employing the concept of Joinery

Joinery is a part of woodworking that involves joining pieces of timber or lumber to produce complex items. In her project ‘Joining Bottles’, Micaella takes the process forward by using plastic as a binding material.

Taking experiments ahead

Her philosophy helps separates objects from just being consumption driven artefacts, ensuring that they are harnessed as tools for creation, empowering not only the makers, but also the materials.

 

“In fact, it is from the streets of London that she procures materials for ‘Joining Bottles’.”

Democratic and Humanitarian 

But, given all the adverse effects of plastic on the environment and our seemingly unending desire for consumption, the idea of working with plastic itself was disturbing at first. Since her work is not merely innovative, but also social and humanitarian, she consciously engages with ideas of waste, consumption and sustainability frequently.

Harnessing the power of democratic design

“The do-it-yourself movement is about shifting from passive admiration and acknowledgement to active learning and interaction,” says Micaella.

 

However, Micaella realised that using plastic could actually contribute positively. “To me, it encourages us to change our perspective on plastic waste and all its potential,” she described highlighting the need for creativity and practicality in order to facilitate change. 

Innovation has the power to create effective change and design is about solving problems; Micaella Pedros’ ‘Joining Bottles’ project is a fitting culmination of the two. While addressing the abundance of plastic and wood waste generated everyday, it also enables active interaction since the materials used are widely accessible. Putting the power back in people’s hands is after all an important part of making design democratic.

Transcending Limitations

The technique Micaella employs is about being a resourceful problem-solver. It has enabled her to go beyond the apparent limitations of materials or objects.

 

Learn more about Micaella Pedros’ wood-joining technique here and follow her other work here.