Combining the speed of a hot glue gun, the flexibility of Play-Doh, the fun of custom furniture creation and aesthetics of organic materials, this custom technique turns trashed plastic into complex works of furniture.
As the above set of inspirations suggests, James Shaw is attempting to deal with a lot of problems at once, including our personal associations with plastic as a material, the incredible amount of wasted plastics in the world, and the typically boring look of most mass-produced plastic furniture.
The key to these creations: a custom-built gun that heats up and ‘shoots’ plastic like one might deploy hot glue, except at 1 inch diameters and with more solid materials it becomes not just an adhesive but a structural foundation.
“If you think about wood, you can think about some beautiful hardwood desk that your grandfather owned or something, and you can connect with that object. People have a warm feeling towards materials like wood,” he says. Plastic, on the other hand? Not so much. “People don’t have that warm feeling towards plastic, people generally have a quite negative feeling towards it as a material. My belief is that it’s simply how we’re approaching it.”
While it is hard not to notice the similarity to toothpastes, Shaw hopes people will appreciate other references in the work as well, particularly to 18th-Century life and design: “these suites, generally comprising a bureau, a mirror, and two candle stands were the height of luxurious furnishing. These pieces reference this trope, reinterpreting these forms in a distorted and blobby manner, in the color scheme of a palace belonging to Catherine the Great.”