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  • Plastic (detail), Gangjian Cui, 2014. Image Courtesy of the V&A

The Rise of the Plasticsmith

What is Luxury? Object in Focus

Plastics, commonly derived from petrochemicals, are used widely today across many types of objects and industries. The Rise of the Plasticsmith imagines a situation in 2052 in which, due to the depletion of global petroleum resources, plastic has become an increasingly limited material.

Square Side Table, Gangjian Cui, 2014. Image Courtesy of the V&A

Prompted by his own family history, designer Gangjian Cui looks to his hometown Daqing in Northern China, currently a large centre of plastic production, and its post-industrial future. He suggests how new skills will have to be developed for working with this now rare material, and has produced some pieces of furniture using a hand-operated extrusion machine. These highly crafted objects raise questions about value and our criteria for luxury materials and products.

Cabinet & Square side table, Gangjian Cui, 2014. Image courtesy of the V&A

Round side table, Gangjian Cui, 2014. Image Courtesy of the V&A

In this film Plasticsmith's Chao Chen and Simin Qiu take us through the process of constructing furniture using a hand-operated extrusion machine:

(the film has no sound)

Words by Jana Scholze and Leanne Wierzba, curators of What is Luxury? a Crafts Council and V&A partnership exhibition supported by Northacre at the V&A until 27 September 2015

Gangjian Cui's furniture is featured within the What is Luxury? exhibition 

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