Reform’s award winning studio is one of Egypt’s remarkable success stories, with a philosophy of designing responsible products. Having won international and local competitions, Reform believes in bettering lives and the environment through design,
“We believe in sustainability,” said Mariam Hazem, who co-founded the design studio with Hend Riad.
The company does not design “solely for the sake of aesthetics,” she said, “but to go green because this is the future. We can no longer afford to not think about sustainability.” Their first project, called Plastex, is a part of a general movement toward going green.
“Plastex focuses on two aspects: social and environmental,” Hazem said. “The aim is to reuse plastic bags. There is a statistic that 1 million plastic bags are released to the public every minute. These bags take 1,000 years to decompose on their own and to burn them would have carcinogenic effects. The third option, recycling, is costly in Egypt because it consumes a lot of energy. The only solution is to reuse them and extend their life cycle, from the average ten minutes per bag to two years for our products.”
Reform creates a new material from the reused plastic, Hazem said. “The National Research Centre found that our material was durable, weather resistant and could sustain 50kg of weight on its own”
For this material to be manufactured, craftsmen are required and this is the social aspect of the project. “Through bringing back handmade work in our workshop and training people to manufacture it, we are empowering local communities and involving others in contributing with plastic bags,” she said. “We have a network of people who provide us with the bags.”
The workshop will store the plastic bags, sterilise them, cut them up and then add other materials to make cloth that can be used in designing and building furniture. Eventually, the company hopes to expand into fashion.
“People can expect our products on the market through Ekledo and Dokan,” Hazem said. “We are also planning our own show room where we will showcase our own designs as well as encourage other designers to use our materials with their designs as well.”
So far, Reform has won the Gold Award at the Egypt Design+Industry competition in 2012 and finished second for the Salone Satellite Award in Milan 2013.
Reform will host at an exhibition 6-10 March in City Stars’ 8th floor.
Hazem seems confident about the future of Reform. “Salone is the biggest design competition in the world and people were very interested and valued the idea,” she said. “We have had big brands approaching us and we are planning on launching our products in Italy. I am very optimistic.”