One of the most successful and inspiring design projects we have seen is the “PET Lamp” project designed by awesome Spanish designer Alvaro Catalán de Ocón in response to an invitation by the country of Colombia to be a part of a project focused on the reuse of these bottles which were suffocating the Colombian Amazon. The project was a response to an invitation from the country of Colombia to focus on the reuse of the bottles which were suffocating the Amazon region.
Conceived in 2011, it was launched in Colombia in 2012. The concept was first inspired by the beautifully simple whisk, or stirrer, which is used in Japanese tea ceremonies. This sublime traditional tool is created from a single piece of bamboo, sliced and folded back on itself to create loops. De Ocón took this design and applied it to a PET plastic bottle: instead of looping the evenly spaced slices back on themselves, he used the resulting flange as the warp for a woven lamp shade.
De Ocón solved the problem of what to do with these bottles and at the same time came up with an ingenious way to celebrate the country’s traditional weaving techniques and support local artisans who had been driven from their homes by brutal guerilla wars. The designs created by that first project carried the signature of each individual weaver, all given the freedom to create patterns and shapes within a few parameters. The lamps went nuts. They became a very very popular product, with orders arriving from all over the world. After this success, the project expanded into other countries, beginning with Chile, and they have just recently started making them in Addis Ababa. Each lamp has a PET bottle as its starting point (with the cables and electrical fittings sitting within the bottle neck at the top), and carries distinct marks of the country it was made, with traditional designs and weaving materials.
The project has taken on a life of its own with calls from other countries around the world keen to implement this wonderful idea.