Location: Mie, JP Date: December 2022 Function: Product Design, Material Experiment Client: REMARE Manufacturer: REMARE
"mum" is a product design project that tackles the issue of industrial ocean plastics by upcycling discarded plastic fishing gears, by-products of the fishing industry. Commissioned by REMARE, a sustainable start-up in Japan, "mum" works closely with the local fishing community to find new value in old tools such as nets and buoys that would otherwise become a problem when discarded. In a world where marine plastics have become part of the environment, "mum" redefines these materials and damaged fishing gear as blessings from the sea. Instead of conceiving ocean plastics as pollution, "mum" accepts them as part of a new nature. The project embraces the uncontrollable nature of ocean plastics, with wave-like irregular textures that recall the feeling of working with natural materials such as wood and stone. "mum" appreciates the unique character of ocean plastics, which differentiates them from factory-produced plastics. The wavy texture of the material fluctuates due to dirt, sea salt, and other factors that inevitably exist with the material. This gives it an individual character that cannot be completely controlled by human convenience for perfection. By embracing the material as it is, "mum" presents ocean plastics as material from the natural world. The glossy black colour of "mum" reminds us of the calm waves of the dark Japanese sea while telling the origin of the material. By creating the sustainable table design, "mum" aims to raise awareness of the issue around the industry while highlighting the preciousness of ocean plastics; the gift from mum.
/ "New nature" and a gift from "mum" / The title "mum" derives from the traditional interpretation of Mother Nature in Japanese culture. Japan, surrounded by the vast expanse of the sea, has always embraced the ocean before the land, celebrating the gifts bestowed upon them by the Mother Sea. The people live their lives, deriving their sustenance from the ocean. Ocean plastic is a cleverly coined term. “Ocean" represents nature, while "plastic" is literally a word for man-made objects. By combining these two opposites, the often hated man-made objects are a little closer to nature, and plastic products, which are used to represent man-made objects, feel as if they have somehow assimilated with the natural world. However, ocean plastics do not merge together naturally with the environment, rather instead, they pollute our oceans, threaten-ing ecosystems and marine life. As it is visible and easily understood, it becomes the symbol of the destruction humans have caused to nature. The Anthropocene age has brought irreversible destruction to nature that scientists concluded that it is impossible to completely eliminate ocean plastics from the natural world. This fact indicates that we now live in a “New nature”, where ocean plastics are a part of our natural environment. With this in our mind, we questioned ourselves "Can we then, see ocean plastics as another gift from our Mother Sea?" Imagine the near future, when our society has banned the production of plastics, people will need to harvest plastics from the sea just like they harvest seafood. As its recovery becomes the norm, will there still be a difference between harvesting fish, oysters, seaweed... and marine plastics? / Ocean plastic, Fishery, By-products / Fishermen make a living by harvesting food from the ocean, but the resinous fishing gear they use often gets damaged by the marine environment. As a result, a significant amount of discarded buoys, nets, and ropes are produced as by-products of the industry. PAN- PROJECTS believes that these by-products of the fishing industry should also be seen as a valuable resource from the sea. To shift our perception of ocean plastic from pollution to a precious resource, the project aims to reidentify by-products as one of the productions of the fishing industry. The concept of creating a dining table for feasting on seafood emerged as a way to connect the sea, the fishery, and their by-products. The table-top has a unique wave pattern that resembles the sea's fluctuating character, and the light reflected off it expresses the ever-changing texture of the sea. The pattern is naturally created through the recycling process caused by uncontrollable factors such as dirt, sea salt, size of fragments, etc, that exist as the nature of ocean plastics. Most plastic products are mass-produced industrial goods that are only artificially controlled, often excluding nature from the production process. This results in an inevitable conflict when plastic materials are left in nature. In contrast, "mum" highlights the fluctuating, uncontrollable character of ocean plastics. The unique patterns naturally created by the individual differences in the properties of the materials seem to have been mediated by the forces of nature, making the plastic more like a natural object. The glossy black colour of "mum" reminds us of the calm waves of the dark Japanese sea which tells the origin of the material. Through the project, "mum" aims to raise awareness of the issues around the fishing industry while shifting our perception of ocean plastics as a natural material; a gift from the sea.