January 1, 2008
Cooking With Leftovers
Evo Design’s new kitchenware line is made from recycled plastic.
For Evo Design, setting out to develop sustainable kitchen products meant completely rethinking the genre. “In today’s marketplace for kitchen goods, everything has rubber over the top. We call it the Good Grips effect,” says Aaron Szymanski, president of the industrial-design firm, based in Watertown, Connecticut. “There are two or three different plastics involved, and you’ve got rubber over plastic. But you can’t do that if you want to be able to throw it into a recycling bucket at the end of its use cycle.”
Evo recently completed its first line of kitchen accessories for Recycline, a company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, that manufactures consumer goods from 100 percent recycled plastic. Called Preserve, the line includes cutting boards, colanders, and food-storage containers with some innovative de-tails. For the cutting boards, sticking with one kind of plastic meant doing away with the usual nonslip rubber feet and adhesive. However, Evo still wanted to prevent the board from sliding. The team eventually figured out that a curved lip could help the product get a grip on the countertop; if you flip it upside down, that same curve becomes a handle.
The business partnership also required a new way of thinking for Evo, which is typically hired by heavyweights like Nike, Hasbro, and Schick. “One of the designers had seen a Stonyfield Farm yogurt cup that mentioned Recycline,” Szymanski explains. “We had been looking at the products we work on and wanted to work with a company that truly focused on sustainability.” Evo pitched Recycline at a fortuitous time—the latter happened to be looking for a design partner. “It was a fantastic marriage,” Recycline president Eric Hudson says, “in the sense that our budding Preserve brand was in need of a close design partner that would enable us to launch new products.” But the young company didn’t have the budget for design that Evo usually gets, so the studio agreed to work purely for royalties. “We tried to figure out how many hours we could risk in terms of speculative work,” Szymanski says. “It’s really the first time we’ve done that with a client. By now we have close to four thousand hours in this project.”
The shapes of the products are inspired by nature: the cutting board resembles a blade of grass bending in the wind, the colander is vaguely reminiscent of a strawberry, and the food-storage containers are a tribute to Granny Smith apples. The designers also chose vibrant colors to prove that recycled goods need not look earthy, and specified highly polished surfaces wherever the products make contact with food. “It was our responsibility to create forms that looked credible, safe, and clean,” Szymanski says.
The line recently made its debut in Whole Foods Markets across the country through Recycline’s existing distribution network. The principled retail chain seems like a na-tural outlet for Preserve. “We believe that when a consumer goes to the shelf and is able to choose a beautifully designed product with alternative materials that is made in the USA,” Hudson says, “they’ll do it.”