Fantastic Plastic

Significant statistics
>9 000
educational events
>2 500
participants in the educational program
Fantastic Plastic is both an exhibition and an educational project being implemented by the Moscow Design Museum in its drive to encourage recycling and reuse of plastics. SIBUR has been the project’s partner since 2019. The project has won 2021 Glamour Eco Awards and 2021 Moscow Urban Forum Community Awards.

The concept

The project includes a traveling exhibition of artworks and photographs made of recycled plastics by Russian and foreign designers, plus lectures, theme tours, master classes, and roundtables.The exhibition features artwork by over 40 foreign and Russian designers and design studios ranging from items of jewelry, clothing and footwear to art installations made out of recycled and reclaimed plastic. 

In 2019, such events were held in Nizhny Novgorod, Voronezh, Perm, Ufa, Tomsk, and Moscow. A new collection of exhibits was opened in Moscow in the fall of 2020, followed by the project’s launch, in 2021, in the city of Tobolsk. The exhibition’s 2022 edition was hosted by Tomsk and Omsk.

Educational program

2019 saw about 1,000 people take part in the project’s educational program. The attendees were mostly interested in the master classes and lectures given by foreign and Russian designers. Perm hosted a round table on Design and Ecology featuring representatives of SIBUR, local authorities, environmentalists, and staff of the Moscow Museum of Design.

2021 saw Tobolsk host an educational program for museum professionals that included both a theoretical part consisting of an overview of the history of designing cohesive object-spatial environments and an outline of principles behind selecting display exhibits, and a hands-on session that included such topics as development of concepts and texts, working with space, visual and graphic design, interactions with partners, and recruitment of volunteers.

The project's educational sessions in 2022 were attended by more than 1,700 people. Lectures and excursions were open both to ordinary residents of Tomsk and Omsk, and to professional audiences. The program in Omsk featured an additional master class for children and a film screening session.

Project 2023

On April 1 through May 3, the exhibition was held at Svobodny’s Local History Museum, where it was seen by more than 2,000 visitors. Some 100 people took part in the various activities of the exhibition’s educational program whose lineup of speakers included the likes of Alexandra Sankova, Director of the Moscow Design Museum, design curator Anastasia Pashkova and artist Anastasia Ryazanova. Their audiences were particularly fascinated by the lecture about "The History and Highlights of Soviet and Russian Design", a lecture/tour of the exhibition, and a screening of a film titled "Fantastic Plastic". Special attention was dedicated to educating children of school and preschool age. The young guests took part in master classes on creating panels with the use of plastic caps and learned about how to give another lease on life to a throwaway plastic bag. 

Between May 26 and August 20, the exhibition was housed at the Mira Square Museum Center in Krasnoyarsk, Siberia's largest contemporary art exhibition venue. The Mira Square Museum Center was made accessible for people with disabilities. In addition, a number of exhibits were additionally annotated in Braille to accommodate the needs of the visually impaired and blind visitors. Some display items could be taken in one’s hands to get a feel for the unique properties of recycled plastics. For example, the items on display provided by the UK’s Smile Plastics are almost indistinguishable from natural granite to the touch, whereas the material created under the supervision of Margarita Kovalchuk from Good Plastic Company looks like wavy glass. 

Between September 13 and November 12, the exhibition was held in Kazan. During this period the exhibition was visited by around 10 thousand people. The exhibition’s educational program included a lecture by one of the most famous Russian design critics and a design historian Olga Kosyreva, as well as a screening of the "Fantastic Plastic” film dedicated to explaining what plastics mean for designers and artists all over the world. The exhibition featured more than 40 activities including lectures, tours, master classes and film viewings.

What made the Kazan-based exhibition stand out was the involvement of designers from Tatarstan who presented their products that had been made out of recycled plastics. Besides engaging with the Qullar home decor design studio, the exhibition’s organizers entered into a partnership with the Wait! studio specializing in producing accessories from recycled plastics.

The exhibition featured contemporary apparel made with eco-friendly fabrics, as well as eyewear frames, home decor items, sculptures, a Jenga board game and many other items made out of what used to be plastic bottles, advertising banners, or car tents.

On November 22, 2023 through January 14, 2024, the exhibition was housed by Nizhnekamsk’s House of Folk Art. The display also featured two brands from Tatarstan: Qullar and Wait! Qullar is a home decor and furniture design brand and studio that makes fanciful chairs, coffee tables and candlesticks from recycled plastics with inspiration drawn from their native land’s color schemes and nature. The Wait! design bureau uses throwaway advertising tents to produce stylish backpacks, rolltops, shopping bags and spacious document holders. In all, the exhibition in Nizhnekamsk welcomed more than 3,000 visitors.

In summary, the 2023 project featured a total of 224 events including lectures, master classes, film viewings, and tours.