Listen here first - the latest in our KEF x LCW podcast series has been released, this time the focus is on designer-maker James Shaw and his innovative use of post-consumer plastics; transforming waste material into fantastical pieces of furniture.
Designer James Shaw’s method of producing plastic is unique. The extrusion process itself
isn’t unusual in the making of plastic objects, but the machines that do it are usually room-
sized; far larger than Shaw’s own-designed “extrusion guns”, which sit comfortably on the
small work table in his shared studio in South London.
It’s a method he developed during his time at the Royal College of Art, and has been fine-
tuning since. Shaw’s machines, like many workshop machines, are noisy ones – an ambient
squeal that means ear defenders are an important tool of the trade. And thus, one of the
more common experiences of makers is born: the focus that can come from an inescapable white noise.
In 2018, he co-curated an exhibition during the London Design Festival called Plasticscene,
showing the works of 14 designers – including Shaw – challenging the perceptions of waste
plastic. Using plastic fired from his self-built extrusion gun, Shaw presented the “Plastic
Baroque Dining Table”, breathing a new lease of life into plastic waste sourced from east
London recycling centres.
It’s an exciting time to work with plastic, says Shaw, as – just as with oak in the Middle Ages – today there is undoubtedly an abundance with it. To find ways to reuse the material is