In dialogue with the founders of EcoBirdy: Recycling discarded plastic toys into colorful designer furniture for kids
Innovation meets design - Vanessa Yuan and Joris Vanbriel started their professional careers 10 years ago in the design industry in Milan, where they worked in different fields of design.
In 2008 they founded their own design studio "Vanbriel Yuan bvba" in Antwerp and have been running their own design brand ecoBirdy - Designer since 2016 furniturel for children, made from recycled, i.e. discarded, plastic toys. For this, the designer duo has, after years of research, a multiple award-winning innovative Process developed.
In addition, they designed a picture book and a school program: the fairy tale book “A Journey into a New Life” was designed to introduce children to the topic of the circular economy and to bring them closer to the environmental problem in a child-friendly manner. The main purpose is to get the next generation early for that recycling and to raise awareness of the reuse of the material.
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We talked to the designers about vision and challenges:
1. Your motivation to start ecoBirdy was? Why create something new when there are so many good designs - what can we offer to respond to the current needs and problems of today's world, beyond aesthetics and functionality? The debut collection from ecoBirdy is the result of two years of intensive research and studies on plastics, plastic toys and their recycling. It was also very exciting for us to combine our knowledge with the applied technologies of different industries.
2. The biggest challenge of your brand was? To create a look for our design pieces that are made of recycled material but still considered a beautiful and high quality product. The technical development was also very difficult. However, the most difficult thing has been to change people's perceptions and convince them that waste material can be turned into a design object. Say the beauty of the "speckled" look that reveals the recycled parts of old plastic toys.
Today the news is full of environmental problems and the trend is increasingly towards organic products. Unfortunately, there is also a lot of "Greenwashing". Thus, our new challenge is to label our truly sustainable products in terms of quality, quality and longevity.
3. Are you proud of? Our chair Charlie designed for children from 18 months to 7 years. In addition to other technical development issues we have already mentioned, creating a baby chair that is truly ergonomic and meets all safety requirements was a big challenge.
"We are extremely pleased to hear that even small children can safely climb on the chair, that it is comfortable to use and that children love it." Both parents and children find the chair Charlie safe, stable, reliable and inspiring, this feedback makes us very proud. "
4. You believe in? What is the good and the right thing. We strive to act socially and environmentally conscious. Fair business practices are therefore an integral part of our ethos. We translate these values into every step of our business. To be honest, though, this is not always the fastest and easiest way.
5. Your vision for the future? Continue to research materials and deepen relationships with our partners. We look forward to working with like-minded international brands to make a bigger impact together. In our opinion, climate change and other global environmental issues are not being resolved by a change in a single industry. It therefore requires a completely new methodology for the entire supply chain and throughout the economic system.
Therefore ecoBirdy not only presents a new product, but also research and new solutions. We want to be a role model for the application of the circular economy and at the same time as a source of inspiration for it. "Circular Design" generates a completely different approach to product development. A concept must go beyond the point of use, functionality and style. The environment must also be taken into account and a balance must be found between all these aspects.