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2nd May 2017

A Want for Waste: Q&A with ALUSID’s David Binns

Design Undefined is a celebration of innovators and their wares. ALUSID could not be a more fitting exhibitor. Born as a research project led by Professor David Binns and Dr Alasdair Bremner (originally funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council) at University of Central Lancashire, the offering is simple — unique products that are manufactured using 96%-100% recycled materials.

Driven by a desire to build a more sustainable industry-wide mentality, ALUSID will showcase its incredible materials at Clerkenwell London during Clerkenwell Design Week. This convergence of waste and want is a pivotal opportunity to share the uninhabited potential of sustainable resources with London’s design lovers. we caught up with creative director David Binns to find out what the brand has in store for those visiting the exhibition. 

ALUSID is an amazing company and representative of so much of what Design Undefined and Clerkenwell London stands for. How has breaking convention and the rise of innovation through design shaped your work and let you to what you are doing today?

Breaking from convention and design innovation are absolutely key to our philosophy. As artists, first and foremost, we wanted to develop products that had aesthetic beauty that can enhance architectural and interior environments. But we were determined to break the mould of simply making yet another product that further depletes our planets finite resources and possibly causes untold environmental damage – in the name of design.

So through innovative product design, combined with our knowledge of ceramic and glass materials, we developed a unique process that gives us a beautiful product made entirely from recycled waste, that would otherwise have gone to landfill.

The fundamental principles that have defined the development and manufacturing of our products have been:
Creativity | Functionality | Durability | Adaptability | Sustainability | Eco-responsibility

In order to break with convention, the environmental issues we have been particularly keen to address include:
- Offering the construction industry a sustainable alternative to natural stone or synthetic polymer-based surfacing products 
- Reducing landfill volumes of glass, ceramic and mineral waste
- Maximising levels of energy efficiency and minimising reliance on non-replenishable raw materials
- Avoiding the environmental damage commonly associated with quarrying 
- Avoiding high levels of carbon emission associated with long distance transportation of raw materials.

In a nutshell, our aim has been to develop a range of architectural surfaces that combine aesthetic beauty, functionality and sustainability, through innovative product design development and environmentally responsible manufacturing. As we move towards increasing our manufacturing capacity, we will not compromise in our adherence to our environmental principles.
We are increasingly seeing material and manufacture innovation (and sustainability) driven projects at more traditional events such as Clerkenwell Design Week — last year Granby Workshop took centre-stage at Design Undefined #2 during London Design Festival — why are these platforms important to creatives like yourself and Assemble?

Events such as CDW are hugely important to us, as it gives an opportunity to show our products to an educated audience that have a genuine aesthetic appreciation – and an understanding of our aspirations. These events also provide a different audience to traditional commercial trade fairs – less suits and hard-nose commerce, more cool and funky! 

How does ALUSID maintain commercial sustainability without compromising on creativity? Do shows like Design Undefined play a role in that?

Commercial sustainability is obviously key. No matter how sincere and admirable our aspirations may be, they mean nothing if ALUSID is not commercially viable. We therefore must acknowledge commercial reality whilst pushing the creative envelope.  However, as a company defined by creative and technical innovation, we hope our philosophy and creative energy is never compromised by commercial considerations.

Shows such as Design Undefined play a huge role in this process – giving us license to push creative boundaries in a way we not able to at more conventional trade fairs, knowing that the audience at such events will genuinely recognise and be inspired by artists and designers that are prepared to take creative risks.
What can visitors to the exhibition expect to see from you?

People will see how we have taken low value recycled waste – waste that would otherwise be dumped in landfill sites — and almost magically transmuted it into a range of unique and beautiful architectural surfacing materials. We hope they see and feel alchemy at play!

Alongside our basic SilicaStone™ material, made from 100% recycled glass and ceramic waste, we will be showing a wide range of colour variations and designs, including our new range of glazed surfaces. In keeping with our desire to offer products that have significant and sincere environmental credentials, our glazes are made from recycled TV screen glass. 

How do you think people will react to your part of the exhibition?

We hope visitors to the exhibition will be informed, inspired and enthused. We hope people viewing our exhibition will be excited by the creative possibilities of our material – how it might enhance a new or existing architectural or interior design scheme – bringing beauty and drama without any lasting environmental damage.

You will be exhibiting alongside printmakers, graphic designers and a diverse range of mediums and products. Is diversity important to you as an innovator in 2017?

Diversity is very important to us. We are always seeking new design opportunities – ways in which our skills and knowledge can further enhance the scope of our own company. We enjoy the challenges diversity can bring – taking us outside our comfort zone. As designers and artists, it is what we thrive on! Often the most exciting, innovative ideas can come from way outside ones normal points of reference. 

Where else can we expect to see ALUSID in 2017 and beyond?

Over the next 12 to 18 months, ALUSID  will be busy expanding its production capability. We are currently collaborating with a world leading, Italy-based company, to develop a production facility that will allow us to work on much bigger projects. As well as increasing production volume, it will open up opportunities to broaden the creative and aesthetic possibilities of our material.

We will also be further expanding our glazed product range, following on from the incredibly positive response we received upon launching our recycled TV glass glazed products at the Surface Design Show.
Whilst doing this, we will continue responding to the ever-increasing interest in our products from architects, designers, and high street retail outlets. The next two years are going to be very exciting and challenging times for ALUSID  – where we hope our material will play an ever bigger role in making our built environment more beautiful and more sustainable.

Visit Design Undefined #3 at Clerkenwell London 23–25 May 2017, during Clerkenwell Design Week.
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