Talking trash (about design)

Andrea Ruggiero with Bengt Brummer

UFO/Unidentified Feeding Object
Medium: A composite of blended birdseed, potato starch, guar gum, and a seaweed-like binding agent
Dimensions: 9” diameter x 3/4″ deep


(More info here.)

Typically the act of recycling involves knowledge, judgement, and a level of education and consideration for the environment. It also requires a consideration for materials and their reclamation or reutilization. All this is un-natural for us humans, as “recycling” is a learned act–not intuitive or instinctive. Disposal, on the other hand, is what comes naturally to us when we no longer find something useful or necessary: we just let gravity take over and drop it. Ideally, then, the act of disposal should be done with maximum disregard–not with the guilt that we typically associate with it. Rather, it should be fun and instinctive! In Italian, such mono-use objects are referred to as “usa e getta,” which translates to “use and throw” in English. Though semantically disturbing, this forms the basis for what should be a rationale of wanton disposal.

Typologically, there are many products which are used once before they are disposed of, such as picnic plates. These are generally made of paper, paperboard, expanded polystyrene, or–more recently–bamboo. While many of these incorporate renewable resources, they are rarely recycled and they almost always end up in a big black rubbish bag after a BBQ or party–along with whatever else is thrown in there. 

UFO / Unidentified Feeding Object is a picnic plate to be used once and then disposed of by launching it into the bushes, exactly like a frisbee. Upon impact, the plates break into smaller pieces and become feed for animals (birds, squirrels, or rats), referencing Braungart and McDonough’s waste = food principle. The act of launching the plate makes its disposal fun (a cross between an olympic discus and a Greek wedding) and the impact of the plate becomes a necessary component of the process. There is not even the need to scrape the food off your plate…but do look before launching.

Rigid and lightweight, UFO is highly resistant to wet foods, vinegars, and sauces—yet completely biodegradable, non-toxic, and vegan.

About Andrea Ruggiero:

Trained as an industrial designer, Andrea Ruggiero approaches design as a generalist, bridging various disciplines. In addition to product design, he is actively involved in the design and development of visual identity systems, furniture, packaging, and environments. His multidisciplinary practice delivers comprehensive design solutions to start-up ventures and internationally established brands. His work appears regularly in leading design and lifestyle publications and has been selected for the Good Design Award, the Industrial Design Excellence Award (IDEA), I.D. magazine’s Annual Design Review, and numerous other awards. Andrea studied at the Domus Academy in Milan and received his BFA in product design from Parsons School of Design, where he now teaches.


Written by JR

May 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm

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