Designing a future for waste

Nine months of research and design have yielded a set of ideas made using waste from commercial CNC cutting of MDF laminates.

CNC cutting is a huge contributor to landfill. Around 20% of every sheet that is cut will become waste. That means around 17,500 cubic metres of MDF ends up in New Zealand dumps every year.

Instead of pulling material from waste bins, our approach was to intercept the material at a digital stage - before it became waste. We created the designs to efficiently and automatically nest in to the waste areas of a sheet in any given job, minimally increasing cutting time, but dramatically increasing the value of that waste by turning it in to desirable and useful products.

This is part of a body of work created in collaboration with Mitchener Architecture and Design for Resource: Rise Again - a project by Christchurch based social enterprise Rekindle, supported by Creative New Zealand.

This piece of work has been selected as a finalist in this year's Best Design Awards

Split products are decorative and acoustic wall tiles for commercial environments created by splitting and sealing MDF shapes cut from waste areas of sheet. The splitting exposes and celebrates the natural timber fibres that make up the sheets. Afterwards water based coloured stains are soaked in to the fibres to create an attractive, safe and durable finish. The process transforms beige MDF fibres (that we usually work so hard to conceal) in to bold, colourful, and unique wall tiles and panels that would otherwise be condemned to landfill.

Herring is a family of furniture that is easily assembled without glue or fixings. The size and spacing of the interlocking fingers that form the basis and identity of the collection are derived from the 3/8” cutting tool that is standard on all CNC cutting machines. By expressing the join between panels, the products elevate a material with a low perceived value in to something beautiful and functional.

The screen is designed to take advantage of the narrow lengths of waste common along the top edge of cabinetry cutting jobs. The crates are dimensioned to fit the still commonly found squarer proportioned off-cut areas.

Herring products come straight off the CNC machine and can be packaged as a product with minimal finishing, and without the addition of other parts. This helps ensure the value added is not at the expense of the CNC operators existing processes and operations.

Stemme Magazine and CBD win craftsmanship prize

Stemme_Sculpture_2 award.jpg

Luke Scott of Stemme  publication and Clark Bardsley Design have won the craftsmanship category at the 2017 Interior Awards for the Commensality table.

Jury comment: “This is a deceptively simple object that conceals a complex process of craftsmanship. A high degree of detailed design, material sourcing, prototyping and even the creation of special tools was needed to create this unique and sculptural installation”. 

Our latest idea: an anti chair

Chair designs proliferate the portfolios of designers the world over. ‘Arm’ chair is not another chair; it is an anti-chair. It celebrates nonsense, and gleefully breaks the chair design rule book. It is not comfortable; in fact, it cannot be sat on. It is the outline or symbol of a chair, produced in fine American Oak.

‘Arm’ is designed to fit over any everyday seat – from a plastic patio chair to an office chair or even a bucket – to create a completely new chair, cloaked in the signified history and value of the bent oak form. Its silhouette is a cartoon of the archetypal continuous sack back Windsor.

The project began as an investigation in to the constraints of wood bending, a process that is closely associated with the history of chair design.

“We structured our research around creating a beautifully finished object that pays heed to a classic bentwood chair, without posing it as a commercial product. Why shouldn’t research have a sense of humour?” says Bardsley.

To create the chair Clark worked with a specialist wood bender in Auckland, New Zealand. The pared back simplicity of the design required meticulous jig making. Oak was cut in to strips, steamed and glue laminated into curved forms. These pieces were then machined in to rounds, and finished with a brush back sander. The finished parts were joined using rail bolts, then the legs were carefully cut in and glued in place.

A Resourceful Collaboration

A collaborative proposal by Clark Bardsley Design (CBD) and Mitchener Architecture and Design (MAAD) has won funding to produce designs with waste material for a major new project by social enterprise Rekindle. The cross-disciplinary team was one of five selected by a panel of international experts from 32 submissions across New Zealand.


The project - named Resource: Rise Again - aims to create new solutions for resources that industry currently pays to dispose of in landfill. It is the first time that a research and design program has been established in New Zealand specifically to address waste through reuse solutions. The large new body of research and design solutions will be exhibited in Christchurch in October 2016, and Auckland at Objectspace in 2017.