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The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) Sunglasses | 2020
The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) Sunglasses | 2020

Designers: Yves Béhar, fuseproject, San Francisco, California, USA
Client: The Ocean Cleanup, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Every day over 8 million pieces of plastic make their way into the ocean. Sea creatures large and small ingest and are ensnared in non-biodegradable debris, often killing them. If left adrift in the ocean waters, plastic will increasingly impact our ecosystems, health, and economies.

To protect the planet's future, nonprofit organization The Ocean Cleanup has been doing the imperative by developing advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic, but they aren't stopping there: they also plan to recycle the collected trash and transform it into something new and useful.

Eighteen months ago, The Ocean Cleanup Founder and CEO Boyan Slat met with Yves Behar in San Francisco. They agreed on the intrinsic value of the plastic we throw away, and the need to demonstrate how valuable this waste can be. Boyan and Yves brainstormed the need to use the plastics The Ocean Cleanup collects to demonstrate their value and raise awareness and support for The Ocean Cleanup to help the organization realize their mission.

Following the initial concepting Yves and The Ocean Cleanup agreed on a design that could utilize the recovered plastic's unique material properties. "Together with The Ocean Cleanup team, we developed an approach that will allow people to really experience the quality and beauty of materials that come straight from the ocean," says Yves Behar. It was agreed that sunglasses would be the ideal personal item for people to wear and display support for this nonprofit. The sustainable, handcrafted unisex sunglasses are transformed from certified plastics from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—the first item from The Ocean Cleanup to fully incorporate recycled marine debris into a new product.

The process reframes the company’s role in addressing ocean plastics, where it can be redefined as an interesting resource and treated appropriately throughout its life cycle to become a sustainable material. This material became the inspiration to not only tell a very unique brand story, but that could also be iconic and instantly recognizable as coming from the ocean.

To retain its unique aesthetic would require out-of-the-box thinking. This began a nearly year-long journey with The Ocean Cleanup and its manufacturing partner, Safilo, to recreate that early sample's look and feel, but with a scalable and sustainable process. The Ocean Cleanup chose to embrace the natural, raw color variations to create iridescence in the vibrant, blue frame, mimicking the beauty of the sea. Once the recovered ocean plastics have been sorted, cleaned, and broken down, the resulting particulate, though easily moldable, can be challenging to work with.

By designing a thicker frame, the brand was able to transform the softer plastic composite into a solid and durable product. Yves's team developed a signature integrated hinge detail for the frames to connect the temples, or side-arms, to the front of the frame. Departing from traditional eyeglass construction, in which the temple overlaps the frame, the two components connect at their corners. The metal hinge adds to their durability and creates a visual signature that is recognizable from afar.

The classically flattering frame design and eye-catching accents offer universal appeal and an aesthetic that anyone can be proud of. For those that contributed to the success of this project, it was important to create a confident and classic look. 100% of the proceeds from The Ocean Cleanup sunglasses' sales goes back into the continuation of the cleanup in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Completing the full sustainability lifecycle and in line with The Ocean Cleanup's mission, the team focused on designing sunglasses that could be easily disassembled and recycled, again, at the end of their life. It was important to all involved that the final product invoke a sense of hope for the future by showcasing today's technologies. From end to end, this process is about protecting our oceans, educating people about what needs to be done, and then giving them a role in the solution.

The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) Sunglasses | 2020
The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) Sunglasses | 2020

Green Good Design
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