Forite is a collection of recycled glass tiles made from recycled electronic waste (E-Waste), designed, and developed by Snøhetta, Studio Plastique and Fornace Brioni. The project was launched in 2021 and won Sustainable Design of the year in Dezeen Awards the same year. During Milan Design Week 2022 the tiles were officially launched with a temporary exhibition at Alcova and opened for customer orders. It was also the first time the tiles were physically displayed.
Forite is a result of two years of research, aiming to make use of glass from E-waste, mainly from discarded fridges, ovens, and microwaves. In the world of production, the ability to utilize and recycle waste materials for re-use is paramount to ensure a more sustainable future for the industry at large. Forite is a small product in size, but a massive statement – that’s why an exhibition at Milan Design Week 22 – the first physical Design Week after the COVID 19 pandemic – was the perfect place to launch the product.
The Alcova exhibition was set in a historic location in the outskirts of Milan, showcasing a comprehensive and inspiring cross-section of design. The Forite exhibition space was an old laundry room with a high ceiling and three big windows, which allows a rich flow of natural light to come through during the day. The borrowed aluminum profiles extended from the floor to the ceiling to support the panels with tiles and leave the space as open as possible – enhancing the relation between the space and the Forite tiles. When approaching the design of the exhibition, the goals were to intervene as little as possible, respect the original, historical space, and align with the essence of the project. Both material impact and visual elements have therefore been reduced to a minimum. One panel of tiles is placed in front of the windows, to showcase the transparency of the tile and the unique composition of elements and colors inside of it. The natural light is filtered through the tiles, giving a soft equal lighting to the space.
Temporary exhibitions generally cause an unnecessary waste of building material for only a very short time of usage. The Forite exhibition was designed purposely to not generate waste by borrowing all the materials from local suppliers. At the end of Milan Design Week, all the aluminum profiles were dismounted and given back to the supplier. The central bench and the panels supporting the tiles are part of a permanent setting that will be reused for future exhibitions.
The learnings from the project have great value alone, however, the impact of the project remains limited unless we turn it into something bigger and capitalize on the opportunities the project has presented. That’s why we continue to push past regulatory challenges, solving sourcing problems, ensuring certifications, and working towards making the products available to a larger market. Only then can the project really have an impact.
Forite Tile 01 and 02 signal a clear push toward a new form of aesthetis driven by resources and honesty in material use. The project aims to prove feasibility and create new value for an abundant, yet a largely unused group of materials. In an industry that demands transparency and consistency as a standard, Forite embraces the variance and complexity embedded in waste materials, and the tiles positively leverage the unique properties of the composition, color, and structure inherent in glass from E-Waste. However, glass from E-waste Is just one option, the potential in other waste materials is undoubtedly massive. To us, Forite is just the beginning and an example for us and others to learn from. The potential in materials that are currently not used efficiently due to restrictions, regulations, old habits, and systems, or lack of political incentives is quite frankly enormous – a potential the industry at large needs to exploit.
Continuing the project’s overall focus on sustainability, we developed a brand presence that communicates clearly and ensures a holistic expression. With a visual signature inspired by the universal recycling icon, no unnecessary use of color and a slim mono typeface, the experience of Forite tiles go beyond the physical products.