Graphics Winner Beazley Designs of the Year

Q&A with Trash Isle

To mark this year’s Beazley Designs of the Year, the Design Museum speaks to Graphics winner, Trash Isle about "Trash Isles" a campaign to make an island of waste the size of France, a country.

Q: Congratulations on winning the "Graphics" category for Beazley Designs of the Year. What does it mean to you to be put up for this award?

When an idea moves from communication into culture it is amazing. Being in the Design museum is exactly that. It is the pinnacle.

Q: The amount of plastic in the North Pacific has reached gigantic proportions, what first inspired the idea to recognise it as a country?

Governments have been ignoring this issue for too long. The saying out of sight out of mind could not be more applicable than with this issue.

We needed a way to ensure they could not ignore the issue, a way to force them to do something.

So whilst digging around in UN legislation we found that if we become a country other countries are obliged to clean it up. Before we knew it, we were sending an application to The United Nations to declare The Trash Isles an official country.

Q: How did the collaboration between Plastic Oceans and LADBible come about?

LADBible had just done a campaign to raise awareness of Mental Health amongst young men. Wanting to continue their Mantra of “with great reach comes great responsibility” they told us they and the Plastic Oceans Foundation wanted to next tackle the crisis in our ocean. The brief was born.

Q: Your design included a flag, passport and even stamps for the new country, can you describe the design process involved? Do you think that good design will be able to provide a solution to the plastic problem?

We researched the visual language of other countries to get a grasp of what made them feel genuine and realistic. We studied the meaning of colour in flags, the lithography processes of creating a currency, we even worked with a stamp making studio to create stamps that could have been used for official correspondence. The aim of the visual identity was to give people something to believe in beyond the initial stunt.

Q: n June you made an application to the UN for the Trash Isles to become an official country. What stage is the process at now?

It has not yet been officially recognised but it is still raising awareness of the issue.

Q: What do you hope for the future of the Trash Isles?

That the World’s first country made of trash is its last.

Q: What’s the one thing you’d like people to remember about your designs when they leave the Beazley Designs of the Year exhibition?

The message. We want people to truly understand the severity of the plastic pollution problem and inspire people to try reducing the amount of single use plastics they use.

Q: And finally, if you had one piece of advice for a young designer starting out, what would it be?

Try to work with talented people to get better as a designer. Soak everything up and work on as many different projects as possible to develop yourself as a designer and a creative person.

Related exhibition

Beazley Designs of the Year 2018

Discover this year’s top picks of some of the most innovative and thought-provoking designs from the past 12 months – across fashion, architecture, digital, transport, product and graphic design.

Background image | Zeitz MOCAA, Atrium, Heatherwick Studio | Credit, Iwan Baan