Clay, porcelain, glass. If you’re shopping for a new vase, these are the materials you’re most likely to see. But one designer is making a series of vases out of a material we usually stuff into a drawer or throw away: plastic bags.
Seoul-based designer Jisun Kim is making beautiful, translucent vases out of the plastic bags for Lexus Korea’s Creative Masters series, which explores the creative vision behind the craft of various artists. Kim’s project takes plastic bags, which are both ubiquitous and bad for the environment, and reincarnates them as a beautiful piece of home decor.
From prescription pill bottles to disposable masks, single-use plastics take generations to decompose, if they ever really do. We produce about 300 million tons of plastic a year to create products that, as National Geographic called out, often have lifespans of minutes.
Kim uses a process that will be familiar to anyone who’s ironed clothes before. To make the black and white vases, Kim layers a flattened plastic bag with a piece of cloth on top and irons it flat, just as you would when ironing a piece of delicate fabric. Kim then cuts out the desired vase shape and fuses the edges together with a hair straightener or flat iron. Kim described the sensation of heat melting plastic as “giving an emotional feeling as if blood vessels are passing,” speaking to the wavy treatment of the final product and anthropomorphizing a material that in all other uses is really destructive to the human experience.
Kim hopes to raise awareness around single-use plastics through the project, creating works that discover “new possibilities of plastic bags that are used and discarded indiscriminately,” according to Lexus Korea. Kim makes the case that plastic bags aren’t something to discard. If we’re stuck with them, we might as well make them into something beautiful. Who knew they could be home decor.