London-based designer Micaella Pedros never would have guessed that accidentally shrinking a plastic bottle after filling it up with hot water as a kid would be the inspiration behind an environmentally friendly project.
Pedros recently began Joining Bottles, an upcycling project where she uses discarded plastic bottles as a way to build secure furniture.
"As a designer, my work is focused on self-empowerment through the use of local materials and forces to create low-cost, practical and accessible technologies," she said to A Plus in an email.
The process is simple. Pedros cuts the top and bottom of a plastic bottle to make a ring and uses a heat gun to shrink the plastic onto a furniture piece. But sometimes, the plastic is not necessarily strong to secure something.
"The challenge is to understand what makes it strong by comprehending what makes it weak," she said.
It all depends on where Pedros shrinks the plastic. She said that metal would cause the piece to move and a raw stone would lock itself "thanks to the irregularities of the stone."
"In that sense, the joint needs irregularities to function which makes wood the ideal material to use with the technique, because it is easy to carve and shape," she added.
Watch Pedros' project in action below:
Joining Bottles has allowed Pedros to learn more about the way she uses materials and has allowed her to embrace sustainability.
"When I first started this project, working with plastic was going against my urge to value local and natural materials," she said. "But then I realized that plastic bottles, and plastic waste in general, are some of the most [abundant], accessible and free-to-use materials on the planet. In a weird way, they became local materials and carry with them a tremendous potential of self-empowerment."
As a designer, Pedros said she has "learned to go with the flow of creation and hands-on experimentation." Since January 2016, she's exhibited her work in places such as the Royal College of Art in London –– where she got her master's degree in design product last year –– and across the pond at the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design in North Carolina. She said that the people she's met along the way have helped participate in the project and have made an influence on her work that still resonates with her.
Pedros is inspired by the positive feedback she's received from others on Joining Bottles, meaning that its future is bright. She plans to continue traveling to other places to educate others about what she's doing and "challenge the social impact that it could have on some communities," she said.
"I hope people to be inspired by what can be made with a simple plastic bottle, by what can be made with anything that seems insignificant at first," she said. "I hope it will spark creative thoughts about how we can play and benefit from what surrounds us in order to face the challenges of our time."