We don’t often get to write about projects in North Africa, purely because Bundu Designs, our social venture enterprise, has been very focused on artisans in Southern Africa, but this project caught our attention recently.
Few of us would believe that the intricate and delicate “Plastic Gold” jewellery, created by Saharawi refugees who live in a remote corner of the Algerian desert, is made from recycled plastic bottles using only hot sand, a knife and a drawing nail board. What started as an experiment in social design with a group of women in an Algerian refugee camp, has moved beyond this to create value and reinvigorate traditions of craftsmanship, in a very poor territory.
The technique and the tools were designed by Florie Salnot, a product designer and graduate from the Royal College of Arts in London, who has always aimed to employ design to solve social issues in her work. She has done just that in her “Plastic Bottle Project”, where waste from plastic bottles are shredded and twisted around metal nails on a board of wood – resulting in the beautiful series of jewellery that not only will enable the Saharawi refugees less dependency on humanitarian help but also give them a medium for self expression in a place where resources are scarce.