Provocative plastics

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Design in plastics from the practical to the philosophical

This conference provided a forum for scholars, art & design practitioners, and members of the plastics industry from five continents to examine the past, present and potential of plastics in a balanced way, juxtaposing the positive with the negative. We are grateful to Covestro AG, Germany; Reliance Industries Ltd; the British Plastics Federation; the Plastics Historical Society; and Rutlands Plastics for financial support; and the Knowledge Transfer Network; British Plastics and Rubber; and Plasticity for support in kind.


We were grateful for sponsorship from Covestro AG, Germany; Reliance Industries Ltd, India; the British Plastics Federation; the Plastics Historical Society; and Rutland Plastics. We were also grateful for support in kind from the Knowledge Transfer Network; British Plastics and Rubber; and Plasticity.


Programme: 24 September 2015

Keynote 1

Kigge Hvid (INDEX: Design to Improve Life, Denmark): Plastics in design to improve life


Session 1 - Plastics’ reality: a look at the provocative nature of plastics

This session focused on the challenging reality of plastics in promotion, product and packaging.

Joanne Lee (Sheffield Hallam University), Witches knickers and carrier bag theories: thinking through plastic

Alan Manley (Loughborough University), Wear and affect: cosmetic obsolescence of plastics in digital products

Dom Lane (Colour & Thing Marketing Agency, Bristol), Plastic Brandtastic: a potted history of brand bribery from Cracker Jack to Happy Meals

Russell Gagg (Arts University Bournemouth), The material consciousness of plastics.


Keynote 2

Eric Bischof (Covestro AG, Germany): Start thinking in cycles


Session 2 - Plastics and the environment

This session focused on ways to improve the impact of plastics on the environment.

Abu Saifullah, Ben Thomas and Bob Cripps (Bournemouth University), Fracture behaviour analysis of rotary moulded plastic materials used in marine leisure craft application

Susan Mossman (Science Museum, London), Plastics and social responsibility


Programme: 26 September 2015

Session 3 - Plastics as muse

This session focused on how the different characteristics of plastic materials can contribute to creativity.

Flora McLean (Royal College of Art, London), Inspirational characteristics of plastics: can plastic be considered a muse for future feminist innovation?

Richard Hooper (Liverpool Hope University), Thomian luminosity in CNC fabricated cast acrylic sculpture


Keynote 3

Sebastian Conran (Sebastian Conran Associates, London): Deplastification


Session 4 - Printing plastics

(parallel session)

This session focused on the potential of 3D printing as a resource for artists and as a contributor to public appreciation of plastic materials.

Roderick Walden, Cathy Lockhart, Stefan Lie & Berto Pandolfo (University ofTechnology Sydney, Australia), Imperfect aesthetic

Daniel Rourke & Morehshin Allahyari (Goldsmiths, University of London and London South Bank University), The work of art in the age of material speculation

Evan Raskob (Ravensbourne, London), Wound sounds – turning recorded sound into plastic sculpture using computational design and 3D printing


Session 5 - Plastics legacy

(parallel session)

This session focused on issues relating to plastics heritage within museums.

Brenda Keneghan (Victoria and Albert Museum, London), The changing fortunes of plastic objects in museums and galleries

Deborah Cane & Rachel Cockett (Birmingham Museums Trust), Art or a cart? ARTicle 14, Débrouille-toi, toi-même!

Amelia Knowlson (Newcastle University), Plastic networks: theability of 3D printing to facilitate relationships between museums, commitees and companies


Session 6 - Plastics and value

This session focused on plastics in relation to different value systems and their changing fortunes within these value systems.

Günter Latterman (University of Bayreuth, Germany), Glass and plastics – a provocative comparison of two polymer classes

Gerson Lessa (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Materiality and perception: plastics as precious materials

Kirsten Hardie (Arts University Bournemouth), Plastic designs that can disgust and delight: the polemic polarizing of plastics

Tone Rasch (Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology), National attitudes around the introduction and reception of cellulose fibres in Norway

Maria Georgaki (University of the Arts London), The canonisation of plastics: plastics and aspects of ‘value’ in the ILEA / Camberwell collection

Mark Suggitt (Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, Derbyshire), Plastic fantastic lovers: plastics and popular culture 1945-2015

For pertinent statements made by all speakers, tweeted on the day, please see Provocative plastics notes on the MoDiP blog.