“We design for a better quality of life.”
We are product designers and graduates of Applied Sciences and Arts at the German University in Cairo. During our final semester, directly after the 2011 revolution in Egypt that ended the three-decade-long presidency of Hosni Mubarak, we were super-excited to be part of the great change, eager to make a stand and make a difference.
The feeling of responsibility towards serving our society and environment gave us the motivation to try to solve one of the major problems in Egypt: waste. We started to deal with waste as a raw material, trying to transform its negative impact into a more positive one. After researching the topic, we found out that plastic bags are the second most-used and discarded product in Egypt.
Every minute globally around 2 million plastic bags are given out for free, while the average use of a plastic bag is just 12 minutes. An estimated 120 barrels of oil are required to make the bags we consume in minutes. This is why we came up with Plastex.
Plastex is an internationally award-winning, 100% eco-friendly handmade fabric that meets the need for environmental sustainability. It is made from reused plastic bags and recycled cotton threads. Plastic bags are collected, sterilized, cut, and interwoven on a handloom. The fabric was officially tested at the National Center for Research, and it was proven to be strong, durable, water-resistant, and able to tolerate sand and dust. Plastex can be stretched double its size and holds more that 50 kg (or a little more than 100 lbs).
The material is designed to raise environmental awareness and revive the weaving craft, while also supporting the shift to sustainability in our world today. The innovation factor lies in transforming discarded plastic bags into a new raw material, prolonging the life cycle of a plastic bag from minutes to years.
One of our goals was very challenging. While aiming to revive the weaving industry in Egypt, we had not imagined what a bad stage the craft had reached; finding workshops was an obstacle. The automation of the weaving industry had affected handmade crafts to such an extent that craftsmen were not able to make a living from it. So we thought of juxtaposing an old technique with a new concept, and creating new products with higher values. What makes Plastex especially valuable is that it is designed to be used with everyday products, such as furniture, home accessories, and even fashion.
Plastex was our first project, and helped us launch our design studio, Reform Studio. Reform is an umbrella of many ‘Re’s, as we see design as a re-creation of an existing idea, a redevelopment of objects, a reusing of materials, a reviving of cultures, and a reforming of our world.