This recycled material will be everywhere in 2020

Working with waste no longer means compromising on design. In fact, Smile Plastics are proving quite the opposite, as the progressive company continue to change people’s perceptions about recycled materials.

Though not a new material, we’re starting to see Smile Plastics pop up more and more in interior design, which makes us smile, because well, their products are made from 100 per cent recycled materials. 


Alba surface, made from waste yoghurt pots


The progressive manufacturing house produces in Swansea, and as well as offering furniture pieces from their Studio Smile, they also produce a set number of panels in their The Classics range and work on bespoke panel commissions. 

These versatile panels have been used as countertops, wall panels, tabletops, in-built furniture and displays, but lately, we’ve been admiring them at Dublin 8 creative space Hen’s Teeth, whose interior architecture was designed by AB Projects.


Hen's Teeth / Photo: Shantanu Starick

Ahmad Fahkry, creative director at the Dublin-based studio, has been a fan of the material for some time. “It's hard to remember exactly when I saw it online, but I think my first physical encounter was at London Design Festival in 2017. Michael Marriott had a really nice stool designed as part of a show on recycled materials at the Ace Hotel London.”

Michael Marriott stool Smiles Plastics

Michael Marriott stool for Ace Hotel’s Ready Made Go project


For Ahmad, the appeal lies in both aesthetics and practicality. “I think it has a very strong visual presence and that's something I particularly like about this material. It has qualities of marble or terrazzo but it is very easy to use in varying ways and it also has style has a great story behind it which is visible in its pattern, thats rare."


A terrazzo-style vanity unit by 2LG Studio

For the main dining table in Hen’s Teeth, AB Projects wanted to make an impact, to be big, bold and colourful to match both the brand and the space. “As very few spaces have used this material, particularly in Ireland, we felt it matched perfectly and with the story of it being recycled bottle caps, it fit even better.”

They settled on one of the standard designs available, though no two panels exactly match, so each of the three table panels is slightly different creating what Ahmad calls a “nice sense of motion”.

Hen's Teeth Smile Plastics Shantanu Starick

Smile Plastics tabletops at Hen's Teeth / Photo: Shantanu Starick


For those considering using the material at home, Ahmad says if you’re using it flat that it’s a very standard material for installation. “It’s very similar to using a thick acrylic or polycarbonate and can be handled like plywood. Our application was very simple though, I know there is an opportunity with the material to bend, form and manipulate it many ways, but for a table top it's very straightforward."


A splash of pattern complements this mostly neutral bathroom by 2LG Studio

As with any material, Smile Plastics has its pros and cons, and you need to be careful when it comes to scratches, strong sunshine can fade it, and of course, you couldn’t put a hot saucepan down on it.

Overall, Ahmad reckons it will wear pretty well. “You might get the odd small divot or miscolour, but as the detail is all the way through it still looks good and it wears a little differently to a stone or wood, of course.” 

Featured image: via Smile Plastics


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