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(Archive) Plastic Crush - Tropenmuseum X Young Talents

What can objects from the pre-plastic era teach us? Four designers respond to Tropenmuseum collection in exhibition Plastic Crush.

This project was part of DDW 2022
Designer Jie Chin in the depot of the Tropenmuseum — © Tropenmuseum

Can historic objects provide answers in our present quest for sustainability? The Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam invited four young designers to respond to a collection piece of their choice. Their findings are on display in the exhibition Plastic Crush and during DDW.

Deep dive in the depot

Designers Jie Chen, Daria Biryukova, Gunda Strauberga, and Lena Winterink participated in the Young Talents programme. Guided by Leonne Cuppen, initiator of The Embassy of Rethinking Plastic, and the museum, they explored the depot, and each picked an object from the Plastic Crush exhibition. The designers researched the materials and ingredients people used in the past, looked for the stories that came with the objects, and reflected upon the dreams of the original designers and users. These elements served to inspire their new work.

From engineered nature to the value of colours

Using a DIY kit of plastic flowers from Turkey from the 1980s, Gundega Strauberga reflects on the malleability of nature and presents an artificial garden and store in one. Daria Biryukova explores the value of colours with a set of synthetic colours from 1983 that were used on shadow puppets for a Karagöz theatre in Turkey. She interviewed several experts, and her eight works of art display eight unique colours, both synthetic and natural.

Stories behind objects and their origins

Jie Chin has taken a 19th-century carrying basket with a water pitcher and a bamboo phone from Indonesia as the starting point in her search for new ways to hold on to the memories and stories behind these objects and to explore sustainable materials in the process. She presents a narrative atlas written on porcelain paper.

Lena Winterink chose five garments produced on different continents. She explores the materials of the fashion we wear, where they come from and who decides what information ends up on the labels. On display is a cloak made entirely from dozens of ‘Made in’ labels cut from discarded garments.

Cloak with 'Made in'-labels by Lena Winterink — © Tropenmuseum

Gundega Strauberga in depot of Tropenmuseum. — © Tropenmuseum

Detail of bamboo shirt from Japan.