In three weeks time, we need A3 marker renderings, development pages, in context images, 3D CAD and a working model, all showing what I propose as my product for Future Generations: Form Givers.
What to do? Shall I revert back to the toolbox idea or continue with the Message in a Bottle art installation? Neither? Both? Having spent a lot of time researching and developing both of these ideas previously, I feel as though it would be cheating to simply add-on to one of these ideas. Plus, I interpret the idea of this Field module as absorbing influence from other people / departments, then taking everything that has been developed before, tossing it out, and starting afresh. I may end up developing a similar idea, but my route there would be wildly different.
Back to the drawing board
After being knee deep in plastic bottles over the last few weeks, I couldn’t shake the feeling that these were to become an integral part of my project, knowing they are such a problem over all the world: they can be recycled but rarely get that far, most ending up in landfill or washed up somewhere. Something had to be done.
A flash of inspiration hit me on the way to uni, when I saw this image:
A so called, Smart Water bottle, lying on the side of the pavement. Who knows how long it has been there – hours, days, weeks more? This is the problem: we don’t know how long it has been there because bottles take so long to degrade – do they actually fully degrade(?). They still look new and freshly dropped even if they have been sat there for years. Plastic bottles do their job so well, that they can keep on doing their job for decades long since their contents have been drained. These bottles are designed as single use items, designed to be used once and thrown away, but the problem is, the bottles are over-engineered and stay in the system for hundreds of years following.
What is even more strange is that we take fresh natural spring water, that has been filtered through the earth for thousands of years, ship it to a factory and whack it into a plastic bottle for sale to the public. That seems normal, but why do we stamp a best before date on it? This water is thousands of years old, but now we chose to sell it, it can go out of date? Strange. The best before date, however, is stamped on the side of the bottle, not on the contents. The bottle doesn’t go out of date. Why does the stamp go on the bottle? It’s telling me that this bottle will fail to work in a certain number of months; but that’s not true. A plastic bottle can keep on holding water for hundreds of years, if well cared for. Have you tried breaking a plastic bottle? They’re pretty strong. All this long lasting, over engineered strength and design for something that is for single use only. Crazy.
So my proposition is to have a plastic bottle we keep for life. We’re given it at birth and we keep reusing it until we die. It comes with all the lids we’ll need to see us through our various life stages – baby bottle, sports drink, easy open (old hands) – and is presented in a shape that won’t age. Realistically, plastic bottles still look like bottle shapes that have been around since the invention of bottles; i.e. they won’t become unfashionable and outmoded by a new, so called, superior model (take a bow Apple).
I have the idea, but where can I go with this? How can I tie in everything I’ve learned over the past few weeks? Materials. Materials was something that featured very heavily in the first few weeks on the toolbox project. Materials, shape and building in a family heritage in the design. These can be brought into this design. Gareth said that if we can present an item beautifully, we can charge more money for it; this can either be through an aesthetically pleasing shape or high quality materials or the bespoke nature of its build. How can I translate all of this into a plastic bottle? It’s more than the bottle, it’s the relationship that we form with this item, we are keeping from birth to death. I need to create a relationship, a sense of occasion, a way of highlighting the fact that the plastic bottle is a beautiful item, it’s yours, and needs to to be loved. It needs to presented in a beautiful way: it’s needs a presentation box. The box can hold the bottle, the various lids, instructions on how to care for it and a personal message from the member that bought it for the newborn. The box needs to be beautiful, to be personal, to have a sense of heritage about it. It needs to incorporate all the things discussed during the toolbox idea. Wow. Somehow, this idea has managed to meld the ideas of the toolbox proposal with the principles of the message in a bottle art installation. Who’d have thought it?
I guess the first place to start would be to research plastic bottles that are on the market…
… and existing packaging:
Looking at this packaging, I’m reminded of a story I saw on the BBC once relating to Finland and newborn babies:
It is such a relatable idea to this Bottle for Life proposal: both are are made from very humble, disposable materials (cardboard and plastic respectively), yet are seen as being used for a higher quality purpose, rather than simple single use.
If we’re keeping a bottle for this long – life – then it may get damaged, so we’re going to need a repair kit to keep it doing its job in case anything happens to it. Why repair a plastic bottle? Its cheap and easy to replace. We’re only ever a few hundred metres away from a replacement. The problem is, we’re only ever a few metres away from a discarded bottle. What other, seeming disposable items are repaired? Bicycle inner tubes:
So we have a bottle shape – from the questionnaire results, the classic milk bottle shape – we know it needs to be packaged to add a sense of worth and create a relationship to the bottle, and we know it needs a repair kit to keep it maintained over its life. Here’s how I got on.
After much questioning to others, the feedback was as follows:
The Big Build
It had to be reclaimed or repurposed materials – it’s a bit hypocritical to say we’re keeping a plastic bottle for life so we stop using up the earth’s resources whilst producing waste, and then make a presentation box out of brand new materials. Use something that already exists and has done the damage.
Presenting this idea was quite intimidating. Four minutes, (not a moment more), to try and convince people that we need to cherish plastic bottles more and we can use one bottle for the rest of our lives. We’re given it at birth, are fed from it, use it at school, work, the gym, in our retirement and then we can be cremated and our ashes put into the bottle and buried. The bottle gives you life (water), and then becomes your final resting place. I have to sell this idea in FOUR MINUTES? Blimey. With much practice, trimming pages from the presentation – leaving them in as flash cards so images or large facts are burned into the subconscious – and learning how to speak very quickly, I was ready.
How did it go? Well…I think? I await the feedback.