are an ever growing international collection of designers focussed in their practices on building a sustainable future into the products they create - transforming perceptions of waste materials and the way we use things in the process

Andrew Simpson








       solar vase by Andrew Simpson

Andrew Simpson is an industrial designer and product engineer with his own practice Vert Design. He works on all sorts of design challenges, and is interested in ideas, transformation and sustainable materials. 

Andrew began his formative years as a designer, blowing glass. You can see the blowing of a beautiful bubble-icious Vert Design glass globe lamp here Rediscovering old knotting techniques, the globe was then suspended with a rough net knotted out of cable, so that the power cord seems to merge with the net.

At the heart of Andrew’s designs is a desire to create work that is beautiful to look at, use and hold. His interest in the human side of design and deep respect for the planet ensures his designs connect with people and diminish environmental impact. He uses simple forms to bring pleasure to everyday objects and events; always finding new ways to create products that evoke feeling in his audience. His design motto is "elegance not novelty"

Andrew is showing his Solar Vase at the Supercyclers SOS: Supercycle Our Souls exhibition in Milan 2012.  The sleek, elegant design looks like ordinary glass, but is actually made from recycled solar panels. 

We caught up with Andrew in his Surry Hills studio to discuss design and supercycling.

Supercyclers: How have you seen the challenges of design and challenges for a designer change during your years of practice?

Andrew Simpson: I feel it is a really good time to be a industrial designer. This generation is really lucky. When I started as a designer there seemed to be a view in some sectors that the designers role was to make products simpler and cheaper, which marginalized designers and made them slaves to the accounts department. It was much more about doing than about thinking. Design thinking as a concept seems to have been a correction in the right direction. At its core, design is about asking why, and providing an answer that is culturally relevant. In business, the why has become increasingly more relevant than the ‘what’ or the ‘how’.Design is more subjective than just being about price, safety and comfort.  

Supercyclers: What challenges are you engaging in now, and what challenges are you looking forward to tackling in the next decade? 

Andrew Simpson: I am a Sydney-sider and grew up sailing, surfing and rowing. The ocean has always been a big part of my life, so ocean waste is a huge thing to me. The ocean was once a pristine wilderness that hadn't been ruined, but now unfortunately it is not so. As designers, we make products that create waste, so we have to look at how we address that waste. At the moment I'm working on projects like how to collect and deal with waste from the ocean, which is currently being burnt. Looking at other ways of re-use of the product and how we do it.

Revolve Your World collect tonnes of bags of waste from remote beaches in Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. I'm working on a machine, The Plastic Eater, for them to sort and grind up the waste so that it becomes a commodity, and we're looking at what products can be made from the new material. 







Revolve Your World: collected ocean plastic
Supercyclers: What are some of your favourite design projects by others and that you have done? 

Andrew Simpson: I love Max Lamb's pewter stool in terms of minimal impactFrom the camping philosophy that you leave a place as it was when you arrived. When he leaves the beach, it is as it was, and he delivers it with an industrial process.
Personally, I'm really interested in exploring large scale 'macro texture', and bringing texture back into design in a contemporary way. I have spent the last 3 years developing a catalogue of texture that we can post-apply to new and old products. 

Supercyclers: Can you talk about collaboration and interaction? 

Andrew Simpson: Collaboration is really important, because it raises the bar in terms of creating a standard that is good enough. I have been lucky enough to work with people that I really admire, and I have learnt a lot by parking my ego and asking when I don’t know the answers. I can't really work in a vacuum and need stimulation from others. 

Supercyclers: Can you tell us a bit about how you came to be a designer and address sustainable opportunities and issues? 

Andrew Simpson: I have always been a maker and a thinker, and as a kid I spent all my free time making things from wood or making surfboards. I did not know that an industrial designer was a thing you could be, but once I found out, that was all I wanted to do. In terms of sustainability in design, I think that any rational person thinks about sustainability in design when presented with the evidence. 

Supercyclers: How can people supercycle more in everyday life? What are some simple approaches to supercycling? 

Andrew Simpson: If you can keep the knowledge and history of an object alive, then they will not become waste as readily. If things become culturally relevant, they possess cultural capital, and they have greater value than their material worth. It's about embodying value into objects. I recommend a book called 'Eternally Yours' that talks about this.  If you record a story about a work, it increases its value, so it becomes immediate supercycling. In my own design practice we have fallen back to the 3 Rs I learned as an 8 year old; reduce, re use and recycle. 

At this point, Andrew takes a swig of water from an old bottle he had discovered at his studio. Made in the 1920's, the bottle that would have once been discarded or recycled has taken on new life with all the memories and history attached as a contemporary water bottle. Everyday supercycling in action!



Andrew Simpson