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Álvaro Catalán de Ocón’s poetic PET Lamps repurpose plastic waste in collaboration with regional weavers around the world

In 2011, psychologist-activist Hélène Le Drogou invited a diverse group of out-of-the-box  thinkers to Colombia to brainstorm solutions for the accumulation of plastic waste choking the Amazon River. Among the invitees was Spanish designer Álvaro Catalán de Ocón, who was drawn to the region's rich artisanal traditions and proposed a design that would harness local weaving skills to find new life for discarded plastic bottles. This is how the PET Lamp project was born. Since then, Catalán de Ocón has taken the concept around the world, partnering with master weavers from Colombia and Chile to Ethiopia, Ghana, Japan, Thailand, and Australia.

Bologatanga PET Lamp featured in a project for Elle Decor. Photo © PET Lamp

Every new PET Lamp Project begins with research that determines not only the logistical viability but also the benefit potential to the local artisans. If the investigation proves fruitful and the artisans are enthusiastic about a collaboration, the PET Lamp team travels to the location to learn all about the artisans, their community, culture, and weaving practices. Together, the PET Lamp team and the artisans design and build prototypes until the final form is developed. The resulting collections of handmade lampshades all combine discarded PET plastic bottles with local materials. But each uniquely embodies distinct weaving traditions. ◆

Pikul PET Lamps are made in Thailand in collaboration the Traditional Bamboo Handicraft Center. The collection combines discarded PET plastic with bamboo. Photos © PET Lamp

Bolgatanga PET Lamps are made in Ghana in collaboration with the Gurunsi people who use the Pakurigo Waves weaving technique. The collection combines discarded PET plastic with straw and Elephant grass. Photos © PET Lamp


PET Lamps are available in the DM/BX shop.