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From Trash to Treasure

Studio Oooms is known for its quirky yet functional product designs and now has ventured East to Jakarta, Indonesia where an entirely new collection has been created from trash.

By Cassandra Pizzey / 14-02-2013

Working together with formerly homeless children, the designers of Studio Oooms spent a month in Jakarta to work on a project that deals with the city’s massive waste problem while educating local children.

The project, named Ffrash, was initiated by Gina Provó Kluit-Gonesh, a Dutch woman living in Jakarta who was looking for designers capable of creating a collection made of re-used and waste materials. Another condition was that the designers had to work together with local former street children from the KDM shelter and train them in all manner of workshop skills so they could recreate the products on their own. “As we have conducted several creative workshops at design schools abroad, we had experience in this field,” says Guido Ooms, creative director of Studio Oooms. 

After spending two weeks in Jakarta, Indonesia on a surveying mission, studio Oooms was glad to return back to the hustle and bustle of this South-East Asian city. “The thing that makes this city special to us, is the past it shares with the Netherlands,” shares Ooms.

“During our first visit we noticed all the sites and smells of the city, and found there to be a tremendous amount of trash filling the streets and clogging the sewer system.” After collecting as much informations as possible about the different waste materials they found, Guido and Karin Ooms set up a one-day creative workshop at the KDM shelter where they found the local children to be creatively inclined. 

Once back in the Netherlands, the designers worked hard to come up with suitable product designs which could be made entirely out of waste materials and easily by young hands. The main source of materials were plastic bottles, collected and cleaned by the children supplemented by shredded plastic from the local trash collectors. “These materials will be used by the youngsters to recreate the products we designed,” explains Ooms.

We asked Guido Ooms what products the studio had come up with. “For now we have a number of products including stools made of recycled plastic, with legs made of re-used wood. Also we designed vases that started life as lightbulbs on indonesian fishing boats. Each fishing boat uses around 50 lightbulbs which only last three months. Before, the fishermen would just through the old lightbulbs in the ocean, now they are collected and donated to the project. Imagine the positive impact on the waters surrounding Jakarta.” 

Other products include vases and candleholders made from glass bottles, “but we will add more to the collection when we return in July.”  

The second, month-long trip took place in January. “It felt good to be back in Asia as we loved the climate, working with the youngsters and having to be flexible. There were many challenges though too such as general communication, failing machines and electrics and general material problems. It may sound cheesy but this is nothing compared to the problems the youngsters we were working with had faced.”

The biggest challenge for the team was to stage the project in just one month: “It’s been a great experience with many challenges and surprises, but already a success on its own. We’ve bought machines, set up the workshop, made prototypes and trained the youngsters. The selected children make a great team and rarely have we seen such enthusiasm and motivation. We are already looking for a next project that needs our assistance!”

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