Our London office is currently having a makeover. For this occasion, Evan Udelsman, TerraCycle Industrial Designer at TerraCycle, visited to lead the renovation. We had the exciting opportunity to have a chat with him about his job and projects at TerraCycle!
Hello Evan, can you tell us more about your background and what led you to work at TerraCycle?
Hi! My two parents are architects, so for a long time I considered going into architecture, but I found that the process in place was a little too slow and a bit tedious. So, I studied Industrial Design for four years at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Industrial Design, or Product Design, depending on who you’re talking to, was more about working on daily projects and it combines a lot of the mechanical aspects of architecture and engineering and I think that’s really cool.
After I graduated, I started working at a community college in my home state of New Hampshire. They started an industrial design project and doing a “Maker’s Space”, which includes 3D-printers, laser cutters, etc. This project helped the students to collaborate and get creative together.
After that is when I started at TerraCycle, a year and a half ago, in October 2017.
Can you tell us what is exactly your role in TerraCycle? Why a recycling company needs a design department?
The design department team does a lot of different things and there is a lot of ways to look at our job. A part of it is upcycling: creating new products or objects from pre-use objects or waste. In TerraCycle, we always try to turn trash into treasure. We made things like pencil pouches out of baby food pouches or crisps packets for example.
We’re also starting to work on the recycling systems and alternative ways to actually encourage people to recycle – the easier, more rewarding and more fun recycling seems to the consumer, the better we have done our job! We created what it’s called the “ReZound machine”, which gives encouraging noises and phrases when you recycle – it gives you positive feedback when you use it.
Then there also a is a bit of our job which is public relation, like a 2-meter-tall upcycled rooster sculpture we made for our partner TD Bank in the US! It has become a mascot for the local area, now the rooster is a symbol for their recycling culture. We’re currently making another sculpture for them, which is a dolphin made out of beach plastic!
Where do you find inspiration?
Usually, I find inspiration by going to art exhibits. There are a lot of people out there who have great ideas and address the waste issues, like through upcycled artwork. That is one of my favorite ways – I always bring a notebook with me because I’m always filled with ideas when I visit museums! Another thing that we do is to listen to people’s problems. We get people to express those issues and that is when we know where to go next. So, when we hear someone say “Recycling is so time-consuming” we pick this up and think of ways to solve it – maybe recycling needs to be more accessible!
Another part of your job is to create designs for the different TerraCycle offices around the world. Currently you’re here in London to renovate our office using upcycled artwork – tell me more about what your plans are!
There are four main areas that we’re currently looking at – we’re trying to get the meeting rooms more usable and give them a more upcycled feel!
We’re looking to get macramé netting with glass bottles or a jellyfish made from upcycled plastic bags. We’re also doing some Origami out of baby food pouches for the walls to create a sort of tropical atmosphere!
What is your favourite upcycled project or the coolest things you have created across all the TerraCycle offices?
There are so many amazing projects going on right now! But it’s so much fun to renovate the London office. I almost feel like I’m a director, as I usually work under someone else’s directory but here I have the help of two great interns.
But my other favourite project is a D.I.Y we did with the brand Maybelline for Fashion Week. We worked with all the employees there and made an upcycled skyline of New York City. It was really cool and worked out amazingly well! We used like mascara tubes, lip-gloss, nail polish, etc. and assembled that into this one huge skyline! The people were engaged and excited. That was a really rewarding project. Our CEO Tom went back a year later and saw a piece of it still hanging there – it was great to see how we made such a big impact!
Would you like a tour of our new redecorated office? Let us know in the comment!