VCUarts Qatar Alumna Nada Raafat Elkharashi Takes Sustainability to the Next Level
Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) alumna, Nada Raafat Elkharashi, created a unique public seating structure in response to Qatar Museum‘s open call to ‘Reuse, Recycle and Reduce’.
Elkharashi used 384 egg crates to create a piece of furniture exhibited during Milan Design Week 2022, as part of the Rossana Orlandi Ro Plastic Exhibition. It was selected as a finalist for the international Rossana Orlandi Ro Plastic Prize 2022: Urban and Public Design, winning third place in the category.
Elkharashi graduated from VCUarts Qatar with a BFA in Interior Design in 2017 and an MFA in Design in 2021.
The Ro Plastic Prize is the international award of RoGUILTLESSPLASTIC. It has been drawing the attention of an increasing number of designers, innovators, entrepreneurs, startups, scientists, researchers, and communication experts who are passionate about creating extraordinary and impactful projects that involve the reuse of waste.
The piece of furniture, with back-to-back sitting spaces and a perforated shade that lets in the flickering light, was first unveiled in M7 in Msheireb Downtown Doha, during a Qatar Creates event last year.
According to Elkharashi, the concept for the seat stemmed from her interest to re-imagine a healthier, more mindful everyday world while involving the community at the same time.
She said the design calls for collecting local egg crates from the community, big supermarkets, chicken farms, and, most importantly, from individual household.
For this seat, I collected unused egg crates from local hypermarkets such as Lulu and Carrefour. I also purchased recycled pulp egg crates, to fill in certain spaces. But for future public seat collections, all crates will be collected locally, categorised according to size, and used for production.
The VCUarts Qatar alumna said that in the long run, the concept and final product should motivate residents to have designated bins to dispose of their daily share of egg crates.
Such projects, she said, are necessary as an initial step toward mindfulness, to spark a connection that can potentially change user actions and conscious behaviour.
This is also why I designed the seat using egg crates in its original form, without major manipulations such as shredding, melting, etc. allowing users to see a common disposable object in an unusual yet functional role, in public spaces.
The design and implementation of the furniture piece can be adapted to the number of egg crates collected, making it similar to a modular system where individual components can be added or removed.
The core is designed using a metal brace, and screws. The cartons are assembled as one longitudinal cladding module, making the seat firm and functional. The more egg crates are collected, the more cladding modules can be joined as separate extensions at the top or on the sides.
Elkharashi explains how as time passes, and the cartons degrade, only the metallic brace and the screws of the main structure will remain, leaving the public with a visual reminder to gather and replace the degraded crates with another batch of reused egg crates that are locked on the metal brace using the screws that protrude from it.
She said she sees herself as an advocate for positive change – a designer who integrates cultural advancement, biology, and philosophy to understand how form and objects inform decisions on humans. That is what led her to create the seating installation.
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