Styrofoam is a material that likely never elicits any excitement upon first glance. Often, it’s just extra packaging that you’re trying to remove to unpack your wanted object. Toshiya Hayashi and Hokuto Ando of Japanese design studio we+ inc. want to reframe that specific relationship between humans and materials with their new product series, Refoam. Using waste styrofoam that’s been collected in Tokyo, the studio intervenes during the cyclical process of recycling to create new, avant garden furniture.
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Styrofoam collected from Tokyo and its suburbs is typically melted into ingots at intermediate treatment plants, which are then exported to Europe and South East Asia where they become granules that get used to make cheap, recycled plastic products – similar to ones you see in dollar stores. The process is complex and the transportation of the material between countries plays a detrimental role on the planet. Instead of allowing this process to continue, we+ turns the styrofoam into furniture right at the treatment plant, before they become ingots and head off to a wasteful journey.
Refoam is distinctive for its unusual texture, which, at first glance, looks like marbleized stone or molten lava that’s been excavated, not styrofoam that’s been recycled. In creating the Refoam collection, we+ has also created new values for styrofoam.
To learn more about Refoam, visit weplus.jp.