B. Di Prete1, D. Crippa2, L. Ratti1

1Politecnico di Milano (ITALY)
2IUAV - istituto universitario di architettura venezia (ITALY)
One of the paradigms of contemporary times, a challenge and at the same time a possible response to urgencies that can no longer be postponed, is certainly that of sustainability; a term that can be declined in many ways (environmental, social, economic sustainability), but when it comes to production the scenario that design is investigating with greater decision concerns the Circular Economy. It is no coincidence that there are now many competitions, conferences, reflections, and project proposals on the subject (Fleischmann, 2020; Rams, San Francisco, 2012; "Da Cosa Nasce Cosa", 2020).

The circular economy opposes the linear paradigms of take-make-waste, strong of the support of a design discipline that aims to keep materials and products within a closed loop for as long as possible (Webster, 2015).

The paper aims to explore this scenario by analyzing the most interesting proposals that the design world is developing, in particular focusing on the experience conducted for three years now by Galleria Rossana Orlandi in Milan, which with the international award "RO Guiltless Plastic Prize" has outlined a direction of research, stimulating the academic and professional world to experiment on the subject.

The Politecnico of Milan also took up the challenge, ideating and hosting in 2021 a one-week design workshop that explored, in particular, the theme of plastic recycling pursuing a new aesthetic code, taking up a social opportunity, and experimenting with an innovative technological process.

On the one hand, the university students have been put in contact with innovative start-ups active in the recycling of plastic waste that, thanks to new processes of melting and lasering, are able to enhance the impurities of the once again-raw material without requiring a sorting phase at the origin (to separate, for example, plastic from tetrapak and aluminum); on the other hand, the outputs of the workshop had to have urban repercussions, therefore becoming of collective interest. Indeed the iconic seats, the ironic totems for the collection and separation of waste, the particular "Infrastructures for Insects" that were prototyped for the occasion - already exhibited during the Milan Design Week 2021 at the Museum of Science and Technology Leonardo da Vinci - will soon be donated to the community and located in public parks or close to commercial exercises that became research partners.

The social, technological, and environmental dimensions thus hybrid in this visionary project, between theoretical exploration and prototyping on the field, which does not renounce to guaranteeing the value of use and aesthetic-formal quality proper of the discipline of design through re-cycle and up-cycle processes.