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Spyros Kizis, an Artichoke Thistle fiber reinforced plastic material

Posted on November 21, 2013 by Themethodcase

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Edinburgh College of Art Graduate, Spyros Kizis, developed an Artichoke Thistle fiber reinforced plastic material, by combining agricultural waste fibers, with brand new biological epoxy resin. Focusing on Greek natural raw material, Spyros Kizis is making a point on an alternative way Greek economy could be rebuilt, by going back to the crafts, and developing the local goods.

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His work is focused on the alternative use of artichoke thistles in product design. His aim is to produce a design through materials exploration, that is about questioning not only the materials and processes used to produce products and furniture, but also the systems behind these materials and processes, from the extraction of the material, and the product fabrication, to its distribution and disposal.

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“Manufacturers have come to depend on oil derived plastics to produce many consumer products. Global Peak Oil is predicted to occur sometime between now and 2020. With the subsequent decline in oil production, increase in demand for oil and increase in cost of oil, not to mention the environmental concerns associated with oil derived plastics, shouldn’t we be exploring more alternatives?” he states.

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Artichoke thistle fibre reinforced plastic is a new eco plastic material created from a combination of Greek artichoke thistle fibers and a biological resin produced mainly from waste cooking oil. The material is created from renewable, sustainable plants, is 100% biodegradable and can also be used as a biofuel.

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This new eco-material has been developed by exploring current environmental and social issues and by experimenting with natural raw materials . The final material has been applied into product design in a variety of methods, such as hand production, compression molding, and freehand transformations. But why the Artichoke Thistle? Between several resources that can be found in the Greek natural environment, the Artichoke Thistle (Cynara Cardunculus) is among the most efficient. It needs no water, no pesticides, it is non eatable and the seed is spread once in ten years. According to K. Karatzos, agronomist PhD – Agricon Hellas, Greece, compared to other mediterranean countries, has the most suitable subsoil for its crop.

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Recent studies (Danalatos,2009, p.4) have shown that Artichoke Thistle crops are able to enhance Greek economy through bio – fuel industry. An industry of Artichoke Thistle Crops has already begun to use the plant as a biofuel. This project explores the opportunity for the development of ecological Greek agriculture in response to the current economic crisis and declining oil production.

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As his work is more influenced from modern designers that used to work with fiber glass materials (e.g. Eames dining chair), he wanted to make a contemporary material alternative. By using two different techniques, a material with properties similar to glass fiber reinforced plastic came out, with the difference that it is all natural, biodegradable and hand made. The results were a dining chair a lounge chair and a set of lights.

Spyros Kizis

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