Hadwa Omran, Co-founder RE Design Image courtesy RE Design

RE Design Studio: SaloneSatellite.Milano Second Award Winner 2013

The SaloneSatellite is an annual event geared to fostering contact between young designers and exhibiting companies. It takes place during The Salone Internazionale del Mobile, at the Milan Fairgrounds, Rho.

Each year participants, young designers under 35 present their ideas for the first time at this event. The founder and Curator of the SaloneSatellite is Marva Griffin.

In 2013, it was The SaloneSatellite 16th edition. Approximately 700 young exhibitors took part in SaloneSatellite, including students from the 17 international design schools. They presented their fresh ideas and design on the area of 3,000 square metres in Pavilions 22 and 24. Young designers offered their new prototypes to the 2,025 exhibitors presented at the Fair (total number of exhibitors include + 700 SaloneSatellite designers). 

Exhibitors exposed their product on a net exhibition area of 204,850 square metres (this exhibition space included the SaloneSatellite area). The motto for the 35th international edition Salone Internazionale del Mobile was innovation and thousands of home furnishing, lighting and office products were showcased. 

Many of the projects presented at the SaloneSatellite over the years have become successful products, even icons of design, while others have won prestigious prizes and still, others have entered the collections of the most important design museums. But never before 2013 have so many of the former participants in the SaloneSatellite been represented. 

That year, many young designers who participated in previous editions of the SaloneSatellite were exhibiting their projects at both the Salone Internazionale del Mobile and other events around the city.

This year selected works of new rising stars will join ranks with designers who have already taken part in previous editions of SaloneSatellite.Milano.

Plastex-Basket, RE Design Image courtesy RE Design
Plastex-Basket, RE Design
Image courtesy RE Design

About SaloneSatellite Award 2013

The year 2013 was the 4th Edition of the SaloneSatellite Award. As every year, the competition is based on the product categories of the biennial trade shows that accompanied the Salone Internazionale del Mobile. For the edition of 2013, these events were Euroluce and SaloneUfficio. Participants in the SaloneSatellite were asked to present, along with their qualifying prototypes, one or more additional designs belonging to the product categories of the two biennial shows. The approach, ensuring that the designs were specifically relevant to the manufacturers exhibited at the Saloni. This strategy facilitates contact between design and business, creativity and the realities of manufacturing. 

The theme of the 2013 edition was dedicated to key components of the design: design and craftsmanship, both at the service of industry. The theme underscored a new necessity to re-establish the value of the artisanal contribution behind the object, to consider not only those who design and manufacture it but those who build it. As such, “Design &Craftsmanship: Together for Industry” was the title of that year edition of the SaloneSatellite. 

The theme responded to a need that young designers integrate the tradition of craftsmanship with the technological possibilities offered by contemporary industrial planning and production, in their designs. 

The three workshops: The Wood Workshop, the Metal Workshop, the Glass Workshop and the Digital Workshop, demonstrated the artisanal know-how upon which modern industry continues to rely.

To the theme “Design & Craftsmanship: Together for Industry” were also dedicated the “Design Talks” moderated by Gianluigi Ricuperati 

The Jury composed of important international figures selected the 3 best products in the fields of Lighting and Office.

The three winners of the SaloneSatellite Award 2013 were:

  • First prize: Tania Da Cruz from Italy for the “Braque” soundproofing system. It is adaptable to any context, thanks to the free, virtually unlimited possibilities for configuring the modules. It responded to the highest technical and esthetic standards of design while optimizing the sustainability of natural cork. 
  • Second prize: RE Design Studio from Egypt for “PLASTEX”. It was a fabric whose simplicity makes it easily understandable to everyone. It should be noted its adoption of ancient weaving techniques to create a new sustainable material with high performance and multiple uses. It clearly and concretely conveyed an important message of ethical responsibility. 
  • Third prize: Poetic Lab from Great Britain for the “Wave”. This lamp was an emotional interpretation of the relationship between light, glass and motion, relying exclusively on a simple, readily available device and exploiting the natural reflective properties of the material.
Plastex products, RE Design Image courtesy RE Design
Plastex products, RE Design
Image courtesy RE Design

The three prizes consisted of a cash award and an internship with a company operating in the design sector. The winners also received consulting and press office services, to ensure maximum exposure of the winning projects.

In keeping with its philosophy of supporting young designers approaching the world of professional design, the SaloneSatellite has established an agreement with the ADI (Industrial Design Association) that provides copyright protection to those who enrol in the Registro Progetti (Design Register). This protection is valid only for Italy.

RE Design in 2013

Hadwa Omran, the designer from Cairo, was one of the co-founders of RE Design, an Egyptian brand. She graduated from the German University in Cairo in 2012.

RE Design was established as an environmental initiative width intention to change the perception towards waste material and the possibilities of its reuse as raw material for sustainable projects.

RE Design starting research point were plastic bags. Their philosophy is simple: they aimed to reuse overlooked plastic bags, recreate a new perception towards surroundings and revive the Industry of weaving in Egypt. 

They invented the way to fabricate textile from reused plastic bags and recycled cotton, suitable for different purposes. The material was named Plastex and given its components, it is environmentally friendly,

In the process of considering the manner of processing, they studied the Egyptian craft of weaving on handlooms used for weaving clothes. The members of RE Design concluded that this, an authentic craft, suits their needs, for production the fabrics out of a mesh of plastic threads. Plastic bags were collected and cut into thin strips, then weaved by hand-on-hand looms. RE Design revived the authentic craft of weaving on looms but with a sustainable approach. Keeping the life of this craftsmanly know-how they protected the authenticity of Egypt and its tradition. 

Other benefits of such production were that it is with zero-energy requirements and a carbon footprint.

With this approach, RE Design not only raised awareness about the reuse of waste products and material recycling but encourages people’s creativity, especially empowering women. The products created in this way possess additional values and bear the stamp of recognizability and individual creativity while supporting the recycling of materials. 

So, the value of Plastex, does not only depend on the qualities of this new material, but on the benefit, it carries for humanity and nature preservation. 

Their new material "Plastex", their works and strategy together with social and environmental responsibility have been recognized and awarded. RE Design received Gold Award in the Egypt Design+Industry competition at FURNEX 2012 in Cairo and a 2nd Award as the winning concept for the best eco-design on SaloneSatellite 2013 in Milan.

RE Design was present on Reusability and Sustainable Fabrication at the First European FabLab Conference in Aachen, Germany in 2013.

Plastex-Stool Close-up, RE Design   Image courtesy RE Design
Plastex-Stool Close-up, RE Design
Image courtesy RE Design

RE Design about themselves

1.

SaloneSatellite is an international event in the design world to help designers under-35s establish themselves in the industry. 

What do you remember about your taking part in SaloneSatellite 2013?

(When and why did you decide to take part in Salone Satellite? How have you chosen your design? What the process of realization of the prototype looked like? Did you have some support in producing your prototype?)

RE took part in SaloneSatellite shortly after receiving the 1st place Gold Award in Egypt Design + Industry competition at FURNEX in Cairo, for being the most innovative project and creation of sustainable fabric “Plastex”, which led to exhibiting our work at SaloneSatellite in Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. We learned about the competition under the theme of Design and Craftsmanship: Together for Industry, and joined the competition with Plastex. It was the first time Egypt took part in SaloneSatellite.

Plastex was created as a result of researching overlooked and wasted materials. Plastic bags then were the 2nd most wasted material in Egypt and are used frequently around the world. Every minute around 1 million single-use plastic bags are given out for free.

In Egypt, plastic bags were neglected and not recycled. This is when we decided to benefit from the material qualities and reuse it, implementing it into design.

We started collecting materials, researching their lifecycle, eventually studying different ways for application. Considering the elasticity and tensile strength of plastic bags, we tried different ways for their application, even tried crocheting it. Given that the Egyptian Craft of Weaving on handlooms is an Authentic technique used to create fabrics out of a mesh of threads, it was exactly what our material required, and we started using this technique for the creation of Plastex. With the support of different investors, we set up a workshop to start the creation of several designs and prototypes.

Plastex-Basket Close-up, RE Design Image courtesy RE Design
Plastex-Basket Close-up, RE Design
Image courtesy RE Design

2.

Started in 2010, the SaloneSatellite Award introduced a further opportunity to facilitate contact between young designers and businesses. 

With your “PLASTEX”, you were the Second Prize winner 2013. Have the Award had much of an impact on your career? If so, how?

 (What did you gain from this experience? Were benefits in line with your expectations?)

After being awarded the 2nd Prize at SaloneSatellite and gaining international recognition, which was a very rewarding experience, our contribution to the design industry did not depend solely on the development of environmental design products. But, carrying the responsibility of giving to the community, and Plastex becoming the social project for sustainable change.

Presented the research paper on “Reusability and Sustainable Fabrication” at the first Fablab conference (FabLabCon 2013) at RWTH Aachen, Germany. Been selected by the Swedish Institute (Si) for Entrepreneurship Diploma in Sweden and Tunisia. And, selected by the World Bank for WeMENA Business model challenge, aiming to build more resilient societies. RE was also selected and won among the top 7 startups at incubation program StartEgypt, powered by Flat6Labs.

As part of empowering societies to become professional Crafters and promoting recycling productively, we hold international cooperative awareness workshops on Weaving Plastex, to bring fabrication and Craftsmanship closer to people. RE Design developed several loom designs as the “Cubic Loom” and “Kompakt Loom”, exclusively designed by Hadwa Omran, product designer and co-founder of RE Design, which is now established as a company and is expanding its network of Crafters, building not only environmental design products, but sustainable societies.

The award had a positive impact on RE Design, shedding more light on RE’s new product innovation. The expectation from joining SaloneSatellite was to open business opportunities and collaborations regarding design and sustainable production, however what exceeded the expectation is the various opportunities that followed in the form of business development, social and environmental sustainability.

Plastex-Competition Stand, RE Design   Image courtesy RE Design
Plastex-Competition Stand, RE Design
Image courtesy RE Design

3.

What is your opinion, why you received the Award? How your design was different from others and what additional values it carried?

Plastex is designed for environmental and social sustainability. It is the first Eco-friendly material made of reused plastic bags, and fabricated into textile. That makes it suitable for apparel products, furniture and more. The material was officially tested at the National Center for Research and proven strong, durable, water-resistant, and can definitely tolerate sun, sand and dust. Bringing plastic bags to a new level of functionality and appearance. The value of Plastex, does not only depend on the qualities of this new material, but for the benefit it carries for humanity and nature preservation, not wasting our resources, but reusing the resources we already have.

4.

What is most important in the process of development of the new product?

(What are the biggest challenges that you face in this workWhat is a key contributor to success?)

Plastex is a handmade material that requires a wide network of Crafters, which is a challenging factor that we faced in production, and are developing through our Awareness Workshops to train people to become Crafters, aiming to empower people to be a sustainable community and raise awareness on recycling.

Design is very much connected to society and its changes. Today the changes are numerous: a new way of doing business, coronavirus pandemic conditions, circular economy… Designers have to look for solutions and responses to them.

Do you think that the role of the designer changed now and how? 

Designers are the link between society and products, hence a designer should always be capable of accommodating the current circumstances, and develop creative solutions to benefit the society and environment, making the world a better place to live.

We have developed a network of artisans that work from their place right before the pandemic, to make the craft of weaving more accessible to people and carry out production with zero-energy and carbon footprint, which has now worked in our favour as work-from-home is becoming the new norm nowadays.

6.

Do you have any piece of advice for young designers entering the design world? 

Designers now need to make use of the current resources creatively, and consider a product’s lifecycle, implementing the concept of Zero Waste. As the world is filled with an abundance of neglected materials that when studied, carry a great value and opportunity for new sustainable creations.

Plastex-Stool, RE Design Image courtesy RE Design
Plastex-Stool, RE Design
Image courtesy RE Design

RE Design in 2021

RE Design members in 2021 have continued its business development. From a new startup in the world of design, they were transformed into a company.

Their new eco‐friendly fabric Plastex was officially tested at the National Center for Research and its characteristics confirmed as a sustainable material with high performance and multiple uses. RE Design created the patented "Cubic Loom” and “Kompakt Loom” to support and facilitate the production and implementation of Plastex into the designed products.

To train people to design and fabricate eco-friendly creations, Re-Design held several Awareness Workshops. 

RE Design brought fabrication and Craftsmanship closer to people. Artisan with his masterful hands and traditional techniques are the base of this production, where he is at the same time designer and manufacturer of sustainable, user-friendly products. 

The results of such workshops were practical, innovative, authentic products or prototypes born on the handlooms with ancient weaving technique. The available resource was reused for the creation’s raw materials, without wasting existing resources.  

To sustain a clean, green environment RE Design with its network of Crafters built not only earth-friendly design products but strengthen consciousness about material recycling. 

Such activities had a wider impact, aiming to empower people to be responsible, to make a change to develop communities as sustainable ones.

Plastexl, RE Design Image courtesy RE Design
Plastexl, RE Design
Image courtesy RE Design

This post is a story of the SaloneSatellite Award and how it had a positive impact on RE Design and opening up various business opportunities. The Award stimulated members of RE Design to continue use design as a tool, to make the world a better place to live.