New Making

A diamond from a broken screen.

It is now abundantly clear that we have a waste problem. Living in what is described as the ‘Anthropocene’, our consumption is now vastly outstripping our resources (Simms and Potts, 2012:13). And as our numbers continue to grow exponentially so does the destruction to the planet caused by our waste.

Our consumerist behaviour is main cause of all this waste, we live in a society where people’s goals are dictated through the acquisition of goods which are unnecessary. Perpetuated by the overabundance of labour forces and a growing use of plastic post World War II, lead to an overabundance which demanded a need for new products to be manufactured (Simms and Potts, 2012: 3). Similarly our mentalities changed; with past generations, if something broke then it would be mended, but now the mentality is often to simply throw it away and replace it. Often enough, due to the lack of skills and time, this proves to be the cheaper option. Similarly, products are no longer built to last, with planned obsolescence now designed into almost any product; so it could be argued that ultimately, it is the Designers that are responsible for forming this throw away society (Fry, 2009: 7).

Unfortunately, there is now abundant evidence to demonstrate the damage caused by our adoption of consumerism. The Great Pacific Garbage patch is a very large area (three times the size of France) situated in the North Pacific Ocean, which holds an inordinate amount of plastic debris.


However it’s not only plastic which is wreaking havoc to the planet; there’s also e-waste.

Around 20 million tons of e-waste are produced every year (, 2017). The average Briton throws away between 44lbs and 55lbs each year, most of which ends up in landfills, gets incinerated or simply collects in people’s homes remaining unused (Knapton, 2017).

Of all the e-waste produced, only around 20-40%of it is recycled (depending on the sources), with the rest going to landfills or shipped overseas to be burned for scraps, where toxic metals leach into the environment. Of that which is recycled, around 30% of the electronic material simply cannot be recovered (, n.d.).

Electronics are becoming cheaper every year and their lifespans are shortening. Advancement in technology often means devices become obsolescent quickly if the items don’t stop functioning after some time anyway, so often he households and businesses are left to figure out what to do with old computers, broken televisions, and obsolete electronics. These items are often stored and forgotten about or simply thrown in the trash. Both of these scenarios are less than ideal.

The awful implications of our consumerist society were noted by Victor Papanek, who stated “”… by creating whole species of permanent garbage to clutter up the landscape, and by choosing materials and processes that pollute the air we breath, designers have become a dangerous breed” (1972: ix). He believed it to be the designers responsibility to create a more sustainable future and their duty to encourage mindful design.


There are organisations who are attempting to tackle this problem, such as the Edinburgh Remakery.

The Remakery, part of Remade, is an organisation who describe their vision as such: “We’re not content with teaching repair skills in the community – we want to generate a repair revolution. This means changing the way people use and dispose of resources, encouraging manufacturers to build things to last and to be fixable, and making sure the facilities are in place to allow people to repair and reuse.” (, 2017)

We visited their warehouse in Granton where Sotiris, the man in charge of the technology at the Remakery, explained their operations. The warehouse was filled with shelves worth of monitors and computers, bins full of cables sat around and various broken components were around the place. The warehouse also held a lot of furniture, part of which gets repaired and up cycled to then be sold in their shop on Leith Walk.

He explained how the majority of their hardware comes from offices and institutions, such as the University of Edinburgh, who every few years decide to freshen up their computer suits and throw out hoards of perfectly good computers and electronics – it becomes easy to see how so much e-waste ends up building up. These are then inspected and repaired if necessary to then be sold on, but as far as we could see, they mostly sat in the warehouse collecting dust.

At the warehouse I decided to take some broken laptop monitors as I believed they held some potential – particularly I was interested in seeing whether I would be able to recycle the possible LEDs held within.

I wanted to create an ornamental/sculptural light feature utilising almost nothing but the materials already found within the broken screen. I was keen to use the different films, with their unique properties, especially such as the polarising film and ideally the LCD. My aim was to take something broken from the Remakery, which many might have at home, abandoned and unused, in order to make something completely new.  

My aim was to make something which didn’t look like some hacked piece of up cycling, but something entirely unique.

After experimenting with the materials, I decided to use the clear plastic sheet, along with the polarising film and opaque film to create a lamp. These were the most accessible to the user and had very appealing aesthetic qualities. The form was chosen for it’s simplicity and the ability to procure them all from a single sheet of plastic. The shape is also reminiscent to a shard of broken glass – a nod to it’s previous form, and also because of the similarity to a diamond when the light plays on the polarising film.

A key feature of the design is the ability to make it easily at home – the main stipulation for the simplicity of the design. Therefore I created an Instructable which talks you through step by step. A minimal amount of tools are needed, mostly just a scalpel, glue and pliers. The electronics will be trickier; requiring a degree of knowhow, however I’ve suggested an alternative, at the risk of the user, which doesn’t require as much tinkering and investigation.


The Instructable can be found at the following address:

New Making

Cactus Fever

Hybrid Materialities

Starting with hybrid materialities, I was really interested in the idea of combining old and new techniques to create something a bit different. I explored the idea of laser cutting a surface of wood onto which I could then embroider patterns. I looked at making an object, originally starting off with the idea of a lampshade and then moving onto more of a plant pot, where I could combine a number of embroidered wooden panels.

I created two plant pots as shown. The first with finger joints was done by adding one at a time as I stitched along the top end and then the bottom, to then fill it with a simple pattern or rings around it or red and white. Using the stitches along with the finger joints when fitted correctly, ended up creating a surprisingly strong piece.

The second pot was done by individually embroidering a pattern on each panel to then be joined at the end. Due to an error, only seven panels of the octagon were printed, so I decided to make a feature oft the missing one by adding a touch of the more traditional with a more complex embroidery with hand drilled holes. Although initially meant to be glued together, the panels were again stitched to one another with a contrasting purple to make a feature of the joints.Again, the design proved to be much sturdier than initially expected, demonstrating the value of more traditional craft methods in combination with new techniques.


Scaffolding glitches

Inspired by the pots done previously, I wanted to make some cacti. This project looked at use of Gcode, support structures and glitches, where I was inspired by the work of Emerging Objects and their Gcode.clay where they use a series of controlled errors to create intricate interesting forms.

I wanted to print a cactus and its spikes with support and without, so the intention would be to have the unsupported spikes droop and create something new.

Unfortunately as can be seen the spikes were designed far too short, so support structure wasn’t actually needed, however an error occurred anyway with the second print, leading it to be unfinished with a mess of extruded filament on top – an error very akin to a cactus with a flower on top. However, I tried another design which required more scaffolding, with the succulent as shown.


Parametric design

Using computational design in order to create design families by altering dimensions through a set of generative parameters. Again carrying on the theme explored so far, I looked at creating a base cactus that could be altered to create a family of them – squatter, thinner, spikier, longer spikes, etc. Allowing a decorative series to be created from a single initial setup.

Using Solidworks and design tables, I initially tried to alter dimensions of a complex cactus design, however the resulting iterations didn’t show much change in the design. So I took it back to basics by working with lofted rectilinear shapes and by applying alterations to certain features at a time I gained a far better understanding of how the design tables worked. Slowly, through experimentation I moved back to creating cacti, the end result being quite successful, albeit without any thorns.

Final Artifact

The three different explorations of material and technique came together very well in the end. Combining the previously created elements, the final piece was a potted cactus garden.

Projects Transactions

Paper Planes

Alexandra Ross and Guillaume Gauvrit

The creation of a tool kit aiming to encourage users to act deviantly; challenging this self-centred notion of constantly being watched.


Instagram: plane_deviants

Transient in nature, and purpose-driven, airports can feel like socially empty spaces. Spaces where people get from A to B, all the while adhering to a set behavioural code. They stand out amongst other communal environments, with governments, businesses, and passengers occupying this space; together dictating and enforcing what is deemed socially acceptable.


Paper planes provides the tools to challenge pre-conceived notions of acceptable behaviour, doing so through a series of playful challenges and activities. Through these tasks, users are encouraged to discover the airport, its social norms, and all those who actively shape it.

The set of products gives way to a community of users, using social media platforms as a common ground for experiencing and sharing deviant acts, together unveiling the true nature of the space. Influenced by our own observations and interventions, Paper Planes focuses on our relationship with spaces, our personal biases and fears, and questions purpose.


Having carried out the interventions ourselves, the predominantly observed feeling was of anticipation, hesitation and fear. Wanting others to question and explore similar intra-personal experiences, Paper Planes was designed to create opportunities for otherwise abnormal activities.

Initially just the one product, the design from its inception was aiming for a bare aesthetic; wanting to maintain some sense of mystery and discovery, whilst being minimalist in nature. It was decided that the product would be part of the packaging itself, allowing for it to be a very temporary thing or kept, as it is sturdy enough. Having tested various packaging shapes and nets, we settled on the box.  The tube and smaller flip box followed. The in-laid content was screen-printed to allow the use of white paint. This made the pictograms stand out from the parcel paper, while providing a splash of colour complimenting our bare aesthetic.

All products were marked using a branding iron. A permanent means of branding, it effectively conveyed an authoritative quality. Stickers were made, to both be used for tasks, and for promotional purposes.




Social Narratives

Modern Surveillance


Surveillance has changed and become an almost integral art of our lives – from monitoring all our bodily functions with fitbits to having smart appliances in our houses, the art of surveillance has subtly shifted. It’s now all about the data. But not just any data, Metadata; data of data, the seemingly harmless information which we’re continually reassured that ‘those with nothing to hide have nothing to fear’. Though the evidence seems to point elsewhere; the former director of the CIA and NSA has stated that ‘We kill people based on Metadata’ with evidence to support that.

Data is at the heart of it all, so how can I make data meaningless? I thought of means of blocking it, but reasoned that would simply result in an increase in its value. Eradicating a need for data, having everything out in the open is simply unfeasible and removing yourself to a cabin unknown to anyone in the middle of nowhere isn’t an appealing option. So I thought of muddying the waters – maintain what data is there but pollute it with other data so as you know it’s corrupt, but can’t distinguish it. Collecting your data and but exchanging it with someone else to no longer make it relevant to yourself.

The infeasibility of this soon became apparent – metadata is a two way process, we cannot tamper or change it as its not only on our side, but on the side of the network providers, website owners, etc. which have the information that their site was visited. Like a phone call; deleting it from your call log doesn’t remove it from theirs. So how could I make it more tangible? Well cookies are small data files which track our online activities and even location, which can easily be found on a mobile/computer. So I can up with something that captures your cookies, physically showing them for you to then exchange with someone else when you’ve collected enough. The Cookie Jar.

The idea is simple really; a phone case with removable ‘Jar’ which stores cookies. An app comes with it, synchronising your device to the case. The more you browse, the more cookies you collect, then simply exchange them with someone else.

This video roughly demonstrates how the Cookie Jar works.