Industrial designer manufactures discourse with his I Am Not Garbage chair
When creating goods, industrial designers grapple with a particular kind of torment. As they create the products that improve our well-being and our surroundings, they must also consider the end-of-life part of the cycle. What’s the point in producing goods that add to the landfill? Unfortunately, the availability of cheap, massproduced housewares means it often makes more economic sense to replace furniture rather than repair it—even if it’s bad for the environment.
Peter Wehrspann, a master’s student in industrial design at Carleton University, takes a shot at this dilemma with his statement piece, called the I Am Not Garbage chair. Those who love modern design can ponder their eco-guilt by sitting down. Imprinted on the silkscreened seat is this shocking stat, from the film The Story of Stuff: We dispose of 99 percent of the goods we buy within six months. If that statement gives you pause, Wehrspann’s chair has had the intended effect. For him, household goods can be the medium for change when “information becomes the new ornamentation.” Wehrspann is a Toronto-born woodworker with a communications degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo and an advanced diploma in furniture craft and design from Sheridan College in Oakville. His graduate research focuses on biomimetics, a field of scientific study that applies the secrets of nature to design. Nature has always recycled its garbage in convenient, biochemical ways. We’re lagging behind.