Detroit is known as a manufacturing hub. The downside is that the toy and car factories tend to generate a lot of plastic waste, much of which ends up in a landfill. But now, two Detroit startups are partnering to transform these scraps into colorful pieces of museum-worthy furniture.
Floyd, which makes affordable furniture designed to last for decades, partnered with Thing Thing, an experimental studio, to reimagine its side table. This iteration uses unexpected materials: 7.5 pounds of post-industrial plastic in the round top. They’re creating 75 tables that cost $345 each.
Thing Thing creates art and consumer products using materials and methods commonly found in industrial production. To create these tables, its designers sorted through tons of scrap plastic that might be shaved off a toy car or the top of a car’s dashboard. They then created two distinct color palettes. One, called “cake,” is a white base with flecks of blue, pink, and purple plastic. The other, called “galaxy,” is black with white and red flecks. These colorful bits were then incorporated into large plastic sheets and shaped into circles. They then hand-sanded and polished the surface of the table to create a smooth top, while leaving the underside slightly more textured, to highlight the unique manufacturing process that went into it.
For Floyd, these tables are an extension of its commitment to sustainability. The company was founded in 2013 to provide an alternative to the cheap, disposable furniture that ends up in landfills. The pieces were designed to be classic and made from materials that wouldn’t degrade over the course of multiple moves, with parts that could be replaced over time. By 2018, Floyd had raised $10 million from investors such as La-Z-Boy and Detroit Venture Partners. It’s using this funding to invest in sustainable design. It recently pledged that by 2025, 70% of the materials it uses will come from either recycled or renewable sources and that it will measure, disclose, and reduce its carbon footprint by then.
Over the past few years, there’s been a growing awareness about how consumers contribute to plastic pollution. There’s been a movement to replace single-use plastic containers—like ziplock bags and shampoo bottles—with reusable versions. Fashion brands like Everlane and Reformation have focused on using recycled plastic fibers in clothes. This project takes that awareness even further, attempting to draw attention to the plastic waste that average consumers contribute to but never even see.