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The ‘Refoam’ series by we+ features furniture crafted with recycled Styrofoam
The Refoam series by we+
Video: Courtesy of we+

The ‘Refoam’ series by we+ features furniture crafted with recycled Styrofoam

Part of the Tokyo-based design studio’s research project ‘Urban Origin’, Refoam is created using ingots of recycled Styrofoam.

by Ayushi Mathur
Published on : Aug 22, 2022

As designers, architects, manufacturers and industrialists, it is important to draw attention toward centre lining sustainability in every aspect of design. As an important eco-designing strategy, recycling plays an important role in creating a sustainable design environment. A contemporary design studio based in Tokyowe+ has created the Refoam series featuring an assortment of tables, chairs and benches created using 100% recycled Styrofoam. We+ is headed by Toshiya Hayashi and Hokuto Ando, and involves the employment of a comprehensive production process for creating the collection.

Furniture pieces are designed using ingots of recycled styrofoam Image: Courtesy of we+

Typically Styrofoam, liberally discarded in Tokyo, is later collected, melted, and condensed into ingots in intermediate treatment plants located in the suburbs of the city. Post this, the Styrofoam ingots are transported to Europe and South-East Asia, where they are further processed into granules and then into plastic products. The recycling process to produce these products is not only comprehensive but also costly. In addition to that, the transportation expenses and duration further complicate the procedure. we+, through the Refoam project, explores an alternate recycling process where ingots can be produced in-situ. Using these recycled ingots to craft items instead of flimsy plastic products extends the material's shelf life. The collection comprises items such as a console table, coffee table, stool and vase.

Processing the Styrofoam to create ingots Image: Courtesy of we+
The process of formulating the Refoam series Image: Courtesy of we+

As the world thrives on the brink of groundbreaking developments both physically and digitally, it is studios such as we+ who add their part to the ever-developing contemporary designspheres while being in sync with the gravity of environmental unrest and the importance of sustainability. The design studio investigates the potential of alternate materials that can be upcycled and reused by changing their original personalities. Styrofoam must have initially been used for transportation, insulation, building construction and even freezing and preservation can now ornate any space by being a functional piece of furniture.

Shaping up the Refoam table using ingots of Styrofoam Image: Courtesy of we+
The Refoam bench Image: Courtesy of we+

These products create a close cohabitation between the natural and the social worlds and embrace an assortment of values that are often overlooked. By studying similar trends by designers, researchers, engineers, writers and various experts from varied experiential backgrounds across the globe, the Japanese designers encompassed the knowledge of sustainable designs, recycling and upcycling to present the collection. Their creative furniture design interventions are often presented through multiple organisational events, research and development laboratories, design installations, commissioned projects, branding, product design, spatial design and graphic design and important events such as Design Miami/Basel 2022.

The Refoam table Image: Courtesy of we+

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