Can an old sweater, egg trays, pipe cleaners and cheap construction materials be the building blocks for groundbreaking lighting design? A group of resourceful students at the top-ranked Pratt Institute’s Department of Industrial Design proved economical design could be edgy through their innovative “Design for a Dollar,” display, which earned the school an invitation to exhibit at the 21st annual International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) in New York City in May.
Pratt was one of five design schools worldwide selected to exhibit at this year's show. The school was chosen for its student-generated theme, “Design for a Dollar,” which challenged graduate and undergraduate students to create lighting, furniture and tabletop designs for the cost of one dollar. Students were encouraged to develop their own unique response to the problem while showing proof that their piece could be made for the cost of one dollar.
The four lighting designs from the exhibit included student Sara Ebert’s Sleeve, a lamp shade comprised of a sweater donated to the Salvation Army and a discarded plastic apple juice bottle. Sleeve reinvigorates discarded sweaters and lends them a fresh perspective. After research into the process of felting, Ebert discovered that wool sweaters could be transformed by the simple process of washing them in hot cycle in the washing machine. Applying heat, pressure, and agitation entangles and shrinks the wool fibers creating a denser fabric. The felted knit wool can then be cut without the yarn unraveling, facilitating new constructions.
Sukmo Koo and Young Taek Oh’s joint project, Metamorphosis, uses easily collectible egg trays that are also recyclable. By creating negative spaces to allow the connections in between three egg trays, one three-dimensional organic formed lamp has been developed. Inspired by Mobius strip, the innovative and abstract form of this lamp conveys beauty and functionality.
Jennie Maneri’s Crystal Chandelier lamp shade (pictured above) was created with pipe cleaners saturated in Borax, a non-toxic ingredient used for laundry and cleaning. After submerging the shade underwater, Maneri waited 12 hours for the crystals to grow and encrust the pipe cleaners.
Amyel Oliveros’ The Rope Chandelier makes a traditionally high-end fixture accessible by using ropes, aluminum tubes and wire, materials typically associated with construction that are highly engineered, easily available, and mass produced to lower material cost. However, the chandelier elevates the worth of these materials by exploiting their aesthetic and structural qualities.
The 15 most successful designs were on display at the fair, along with select projects from Pratt’s TerraCycle “UPCYCLE” competition, which challenged Pratt students to create new products from industrial waste.