FormaFantasma, an Italian design studio led by Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, used aluminum extrusions in its design of a unique shelving system for Hem, an independent design brand and platform for progressive thinking. The two companies worked with Hydro during the development stage.
When designing the T Shelf system, FormaFantasma and Hem selected aluminum extrusions for their functionality, nearly unlimited design potential, and efficient production process with near-zero waste — as well as their recyclability. As part of their collaboration, the two companies worked with Hydro to implement Hydro EcoDesign, a concept that combines technical excellence with creative design to improve the functionality of a product, as well as its social and environmental footprint.
“Most of the cost of a product and its environmental impacts are committed early in the design process, on the drawing board. This is where circular economy begins, and this is where Hydro EcoDesign has a role to play,” says Jonas Bjuhr, who leads Hydro Extrusion Sweden. “Many products cannot be recycled because of the way they are designed and produced. It is either impossible to take them apart or too expensive. We need to produce things that live longer, can be recycled, or reused at the end of life. The T Shelf from Hem and FormaFantasma is a great example of a product made for circularity.”
The T Shelf is made with Hydro RESTORE, a recycled aluminum product consisting of pre- and post-consumer scrap. Pre-consumer scrap includes waste from the manufacturing process, while post-consumer scrap is comprised of aluminum that has already reached the end of its life as a product. For example, a window frame, an automotive wheel, or a bike frame. Since post-consumer scrap is aluminum that is prevented from entering a landfill, it has a very low carbon footprint. Both kinds of scrap are sorted, melted, cast, and then looped back into the extrusion process.
Hydro is fully transparent on the content of pre- and post-consumer scrap in RESTORE, which is delivered with an Environmental Product Declaration stating its content and carbon footprint.
In addition to using recycled aluminum the shelf is almost entirely comprised of aluminum. “The initial idea was and in part still is, to develop a system not just a bookshelf,” noted Hem. “With two extrusions, one can basically construct everything.” The use of aluminum as the primary design element, makes the T Shelf easy to disassemble and put back into the recycling stream after its useful life is over.
Functional Design with Aluminum Profiles
The T Shelf is comprised of two profiles — both of which are manufactured by Hydro at their facility in Sweden. One of the extrusions serves as the T-profile board and the other serves as the side or partition wall.
The so-called T-profile board provides the structural strength of the shelf and allows the shelves to be cut in different lengths to offer several sections. The three holes on each end of the T-profile are used for fastening the shelf to the side or partition wall, which stabilizes the entire unit, making cross braces or back panels unnecessary — allowing for a minimalist design. The second extrusion, used for the side or partition wall, is designed with a function that hides the screws connecting the boards.
Through the use of extrusions, the T Shelf is able to achieve a flexible shelving system that provides easy assembly, a durable aluminum surface, and rigid construction. The shelving system will target retail outlets, as well as residential and commercial offices.
According to Hem, the best environment for the T Shelf would be a business or home office setting. “The objects are very industrial in materials and production, but the formal solutions and the refinement elevates these making them sophisticated and perfect also for the home,” stated the company. “Our general aim is to produce tools for the everyday. We want to do something timeless and that uses materials responsibly. This product is fantastic in this sense.”