Plastic as art? You’d get a lot of guffaws from the general public, which is more familiar with artistic materials such as oil paint and metal sculpture, even glass. But plastic? Puh-leeze!
But the answer is “yes,” plastic can be the raw material for art, and we can prove it, as more and more designers — of everything from kitchenware to swimwear – are discovering the amazing versatility of this endlessly malleable substance.
Currently, there is an art exhibition in Brazil that features more than a 100 products, from a plastic bikini to fashion-forward furniture, where plastics are a central design material.
But the event in Rio is not the first which focuses on the design possibilities of plastic. There have been exhibitions in Helsinki, Prague and, yes, Paris, which have sought to overcome the stigma associated with a material which one writer proclaimed “the eighth wonder of the material world.”
All of these expositions place an emphasis on recycling—from the use of recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles to manufacture the aforementioned bikini to a famous purse designer who recycles right in his own factory.
At the design show in Rio, there were plastic coffee cups, necklaces — even couches and dining room tables. And while the term “functional art” definitely applied, the emphasis was most certainly on the “art” — all of the items were based on the time-honored principles of form, material and message.
Artists who have worked in plastic include Andy Warhol, Charles Biederman and Picasso, among many others. They weren’t afraid to try new materials as they became available in order to stretch (pun intended) the boundaries of what was considered “acceptable” by the public of the day.
While AdvanTech Plastics manufactures extremely functional plastic products, there is still an art in everything we do, starting with the mold we either help design or work with our partners to produce. As did Andy Warhol, we believe that “art begins and ends in the mind of the beholder.”