Turn trash into treasure. That was the goal of sophomore School of Design students in Melissa Cicozi's recent Design and Social Change course. Instructed to think about what local business, neighbors and they, themselves, throw away, the students set out to find trash they could re-create into something beautiful and useful.
"We believe it is important to instill environmental thinking into their design process early on, making it an automatic consideration in their design profession," said Cicozi. (See gallery of students' work.)
From melted vinyl records, Gregory Siegal made useful desk accessories. Steven Blair turned old cans into an attractive wall lamp. And Kate Rosendale crafted an interesting flower vase from a thrown-out light bulb and recycled hardware.
Projects were judged on such qualities as marketability, usefulness, convenience and the likelihood that they would reduce waste.
The students' final projects were placed on display for sale at the non-profit Construction Junction in Pittsburgh's East End neighborhood. Posters for the event were created by alumna Sona Hairabedian, based on images of the students' work.
Cicozi said the reaction of Construction Junction visitors was positive.
"The day I set up the show, every person who wandered in to Construction Junction stopped to examine our work," she recalled. "They said things like, 'That's so clever,' or 'That's so cool,' or 'I never thought of that.' And the people were from every walk of life. I was very excited to hear them react like that."