Recycled Design Showcases Student Talent at Manchester International Festival

July 16, 2015 at 10:00 AM

TALENTED design students from the Manchester School of Art have brought a sense of fun to the roof terrace of Manchester International Festival in a competition to provide a striking contemporary furniture design using Stokbord® recycled plastic.

The winning team responded to the brief to deliver 100 informal, colourful and comfortable outdoor seats for the central Festival Square venue, a bustling hub for MIF activities. The colour and diversity of the winning design has created a backdrop for a buzzing and sociable atmosphere in Manchester’s Albert Square until 19 July.

The students were challenged to work with Stokbord recycled plastic sheet and board from Liverpool-based Centriforce Products to help meet the festival’s stringent sustainability objectives.

After the event, the furniture will be moved to a permanent home in the public park next to the recently-refurbished Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester. The furniture’s playful design and references to stitching were incorporated by the students to hint at the Whitworth’s textile connections, as well as the park location.

To win the competition the team of students presented to a ‘Dragon’s Den’-style panel representing senior University teaching staff, Manchester designers, and MIF. Says senior lecturer David Grimshaw:

“A key focus for the winning team was collaboration and the differing perspectives of MA Product Design and BA 3D design students who have delivered amazing results that successfully combine cutting-edge design with inclusivity and playfulness.

“The furniture has had an overwhelmingly positive response and looks set to be enjoyed by young and old. Creating multi-level seats that were comfortable for people across the generations was a key element of the students’ interpretation of the brief, which has worked brilliantly.”

The winning team were Emma Crabtree, Katia Mackowiak and Daecan Tee from MA Product Design, and Benjamin Ashton and Oliver Scholes, both BA 3D Design students.

Stunning furniture made from Stokbord for the 2013 festival also returned to the Pavilion. As part of MIF’s ongoing upcycling theme the benches are now clad with 50 brightly-coloured unique cushions made by third-year Textile in Practice students, that referenced the design of the winning 2015 furniture.

Stokbord provided the ideal material for the Festival challenge because of its robust, practical, weather-proof and environmentally-friendly credentials. The Stokbord sheet is easy to cut to shape in a variety of thicknesses, so provided the ideal material. The sheets used for the furniture were cut to shape using CNC machining techniques by festival partner,  '24 Design', and assembled by the students themselves.

Ronnie Doctor, Marketing Manager for Centriforce Products said: “Centriforce welcomes the challenge of finding imaginative new ways to work our recycled plastic materials into unique and commercially-viable products. The students have really showed they can combine their skills to deliver an end-product that is soon set to have an exciting new life in Whitworth Park.”

MIF is a festival of original, new work and special events and takes place biennially in Manchester, UK. The Festival launched in 2007 as an artist-led, commissioning festival presenting new works from across the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture. The Festival also encompasses MIFCreative, the community and learning focused arm of the Festival, bringing MIF to the people and communities of Manchester and learning from them in its turn.

MIF 2015 Stokbord seating
MIF 2015 Stokbord seating
The recycled plastic seating on the rooftop terace
The recycled plastic seating on the rooftop terace
Close up view of the range of seating
Close up view of the range of seating
The design students on their winning design
The design students on their winning design

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