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Adrían Lebendiker

Recycling dreams
  • I remember we were sitting around the black table just beneath the large skylight of the main room of the Centro Metropolitano de Diseño. Miki was explaining to us the idea of the exhibition: a set of simple tools that will allow simple, untrained people extracting fibers and cuts from PET bottles and aluminum cans for manufacturing everyday use objects that would allow them improve their poor living conditions.

    We had been working for months organizing Design Businesses in Buenos Aires (NDBA), and still had to decide the character of the exhibition that would take place at the CMD. Our calendar was full of important business events, visits to industrial facilities, lectures and agapes at different stores of Palermo and Arenales: the sophistication of design in home and working spaces’ products that Buenos Aires was able to provide.

    The idea consisted of an exhibition that would follow the work line with some local raw materials such as the eucalyptus grandis. Oak, willow, lenga and light blue marble producers encouraged us to follow a methodology that articulated producers, manufacturers, designers, marketing channels and we felt it would be successful. That is why we were attracted by this idea of exhibiting a part, young and immature but with high potential, of the projects sustained by good performance primary industries in the Argentina of the years 1990’s.

    Alejandro Sarmiento joined us while we were having that talk with Miki. As soon as he sat, he took out of his jacket a weir wood “U”-shaped object crossed by a cutter blade and in just one movement cut the neck of a Seven Up bottle. He stuck the tool into the decapitated bottle and started pulling from the PET’s end until he obtained a long strip of crystal green plastic that looked like the peel of an orange. In one moment, the bottle was no longer a bottle but instead it was a clean cut strip stretched on the table. He then showed us some spirals and weaves made with similar strips. For a while, we stayed observing and handling the cutter and those PET wires that also called the attention of most passers-by.

    We started laughing with the exited laughter which arises whenever we are in front of simple, elemental and at the same smart and sharp solutions. It all started to have an order. All parts started fitting together, almost magically. For Miki and Alejandro… because they had been behind this project for years and now they were able to put into practice, for us… because all those Cartoneros that had suddenly invaded the city and installed a dramatic social radiography, the conflict on the use of rubbish where design had to account for.

    It then started the knock-on effects and the projects: exhibiting “ContenidoNeto”, training micro-entrepreneurs, organizing a testing center with recyclable materials, promoting the project sense of design as a complement of the NDBA business proposals and many other ideas.

    Today finally it is introduced the product of hard work which, at the same time, it is only a moment of the process. Such as design samples have to be: a boost for the creative activity, a trigger for the search of new techniques, of unexplored languages and emergent from the realities that, although painful, are authentically ours.

    “ContenidoNeto” is may be a metaphor of a society that reconstructs its plots, weaves and projects with the shreds of what we used to be not long ago: a huge empty bottle.

    Adrián Lebendiker
    General Coordinator, Centro Metropolitano de Diseño, Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires.