Posted on January 16, 2018
We Invited Meanwhile In Melbourne to Interview Alvaro Catalan De Ocon
International Guest: Alvaro Catalan de Ocón of PET Lamp
WORDS: MANUELA MILLAN
PHOTOS: PET LAMP
Alvaro Catalan De Ocón has spent the past 6 years travelling to remote communities around the globe to tackle the issue of plastic pollution in a unique way.
PET Lamp works with local artisans to create award-winning and unique lighting designs from discarded plastic bottles. The artistry of the local weavers transforms the plastic bottles from damaging waste into vibrant pendant lamps which are reflective of the traditions of the community and individuals who created them.
“The issue of plastic bottles is a global problem and we approach the problem through another global reality which is basket making, which has existed since the very beginning.”
— ALVARO CATALAN DE OCÓN
PET bottles can have a second life. There are other ways to accomplish this, but we intended to fuse one of the most produced industrial objects with one of the traditional crafts most rooted to the earth.
The bottles changed from being containers for liquids into being ceiling lamps. We took advantage of the bottle top to join the electrical components to the lamp shade, the neck as the structure and the body of the bottle as a surface on which to weave. The principle of weaving is reinterpreted and the surface of the bottle is converted into the warp through which the artisan weaves the weft.
The PET Lamp story begins in 2012 when Alvaro was invited to be involved in a project to tackle the issue of plastic pollution in Colombia’s waterways. With a background in product and industrial design Alvaro wanted to find a way to repurpose and upcycle used bottles in a way which would extend their usable life. PET Lamp’s ingenious solution involves treating the used bottles as a support structure on which to create woven designs, and then working with artisan weavers from affected communities to create stunning lampshades which are then retailed worldwide to bring much needed income to the community while raising awareness of the ecological impact of our overreliance on plastic.
After their Colombian experiment gained traction and became economically self-sustaining they realised the potential to take PET Lamp worldwide, as basket making and plastic pollution are present in every human culture. PET Lamp has since travelled and collaborated with artisans from Chile, Ethiopia, Japan and most recently Australia. The beauty of the PET Lamp project is that the spirit of the weavers takes centre stage and no two pieces are identical, as each region and artist puts their own imprint on the piece.
One of the most remarkable things about PET Lamp is that it touches on such a variety of important areas, from pure design aesthetic, to social and of course ecological issues. This has not gone unnoticed and PET Lamp’s work has gained worldwide recognition taking home honours across a variety of fields and countries.
All PET Lamps are available at the Safari Living Showroom on High Street, Prahran.
“We don’t impose a design on the weavers; we trust the design instincts of the artisan. It’s a real collaboration.”
— ALVARO CATALAN DE OCÓN
2013 & 2016
December 11, 2017