Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes
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Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

Blocks of resin with colourful marble-like patterns surround chunks of wood to form these miniature storage boxes by Royal College of Art graduate Jie Wu.

The 17 containers, called Living in the Anthropocene, were created during Wu's time on the Textiles MA programme at the RCA.

Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

The aim of the project was to explore society's relationship with natural and manmade materials, and in particular the perceived values of those materials.

"The central premise to my creative practice is to elevate our perceptions of synthetic materials and their potential," Wu explained to Dezeen.

"My father deals with antiques, and watching the care with which each precious ornament is passed down from generation to generation got me thinking about what will become antiques of the present day."

Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

"I wanted to use plastic and reconfigure it in such a way that it can be thought of as a timeless treasure," she continued.

"As I continue to develop my creative practice, I hope my approach to resin making can be considered with a similar appreciation to how we view other more traditional long-lasting organic materials, such as marble."

Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

Wu creates the boxes by casting a special type of rosewood in resin made up of different colours.

"The wood I use is a very special and rare antique rosewood," she added. "This type of wood is found in a remote village in China and has a prolonged growth cycle. The locals used this wood for FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) and wood-burning. They didn't realise the preciousness of the forest."

"For me, these precious woods are themselves a piece of art, and I hope they can be valued by people."

Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

The blocks of wood and resin are cut using a CNC machine – a complex process that Wu said takes over 20 hours. After this, the containers are polished to create a high-gloss finish.

"Their marble-like patterns are born out of the wrestling dance of the organic and the plastic," she explained.

"I made these non-recyclable materials into new art pieces. The way that I see it, a material can arguably be considered 'sustainable' if it is valued and useful for decades to come."

Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

The containers will be showcased alongside the work of emerging designers at the Decorex trade show next month, during London Design Festival. The pieces will be part of an exhibition called Future Heritage, curated by design critic Corinne Julius.

Wu hopes to continue developing the collection, adding larger pieces, such as furniture and ornaments.

Jie Wu seeks to elevate value of plastic with series of miniature boxes

Other Royal College of Art graduates this year include Amy Shao, whose project proposed converting a central London hospital into a hotel, which would naturally treat guests with herbs that sprout from the roof, ceiling and walls.

Meanwhile Hannah Rozenberg developed a digital tool that calculates the underlying gender bias in English architectural terms, to help create more gender-neutral environments.