Case Study SA05: Circular Design Academy

Space Available is a creative platform and ecological design studio on a mission to create a circular future. We create spaces, concepts, products and experiences based on the regenerative principles of the natural world.

Our fifth case study Circular Design Academy focuses on the principles of regeneration and circularity found in nature. It is a result of the insights we gained from the Circular Design Academy workshop sessions held last year in Bali, Paris, Tokyo, and Singapore. The academy spearheads the radical movement of circular design across the pillars of upcycling, recycling, and bio-design.

A new institution taking a radical approach to circular design

With our Circular Design Academy we aim to inspire people to take action towards a circular future by exploring themes such as circular living, waste potential, system dynamics and nature restoration, as well as rituals and meditation that bring more harmony to our inner space.

Future Culture: Innovative Systems and Materials fused with Traditional Craftsmanship

We believe that interdisciplinary collaboration of artists, designers, scientists and environmentalists is the key to bridging the current gap between nature and culture.



Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. The recovery of energy from waste materials is often included in this concept. The recyclability of a material depends on its ability to reacquire the properties it had in its original state. It is an alternative to “conventional” waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. Recycling can prevent the waste of potentially useful materials and reduce the consumption of fresh raw materials, thereby reducing energy usage, air pollution (from incineration), and water pollution (from landfilling).

Recycling is a key component of the ‘Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle’ waste hierarchy. Thus, recycling aims toward environmental sustainability by substituting raw material inputs into and redirecting waste outputs out of the economic system. There are some ISO standards related to recycling such as ISO 15270-2008 for plastics waste and ISO 14001-2015 for environmental management control of recycling practice.



Upcycling is the opposite of downcycling, which is the other part of the recycling process. Downcycling involves converting materials and products into new materials, most recycling involves converting or extracting useful materials from a product and creating a different product or material.



Biodesign combines principles from biology, engineering, and design. It involves the application of biological concepts and processes to design products, systems, and technologies that address issues in healthcare, environmental sustainability, agriculture, and more. Going beyond biomimicry, biodesign incorporates living organisms as vital elements that improve the final product’s functionality, thus giving nature an active role in shaping it.


Mycelium Composite

The constant increase in global waste and depletion of natural resources, along with accelerated advances in technological skills and knowledge transfer, lead to the development of advanced bio-based materials that could offer sustainable alternatives for many synthetic materials customarily used in industrial artefacts.

Mycotech is using an integrated technology, a material-driven design process with biotechnological tools, to explore the potential of mycelium based composites as sustainable alternatives in design and furniture applications. Establishing a primary framework to imply mycelium composites in circular production scenarios.


Hand-Dyeing with plant pigments

Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources; roots, berries, bark, leaves, wood and other biological sources such as fungi.

At Space Available we use the following plant pigments to achieve our colours: Indigo and mango create green. Our brown dust colour is achieved by mixing ketapang (umbrella leaves) and mahogany. Black can be created with ketapang (umbrella leaves and indigo. Broken white is dyed with light mango, red with sappan wood and blue with indigofera tinctoria. And we create our earth dust colour from ketapang (umbrella leaves) and indigofera tinctoria.


Artisan Hand-Stitching

With our artisan hand stitch we encourage the preservation of traditional techniques, innovated only by the use of new world materials which work within our circular system.


Circular Collaborations

Space Available was started as an educational platform for artists, designers, scientists and environmentalists to come together to connect the dots between nature, culture and design. Over time the talks and workshops we held with local and international pioneers developed into products that showcase the potential of circular design. These products work as a real world case study to inspire people to become active in their own way.

The Circular Design Academy was launched as a way to further educate about our ethos in a real world setting and invite the public to join the design process and prototype first ideas together with Space Available and our collaborators. These workshops are free to attend as we believe that working together is the key to creating change.

Through these codesign sessions we were able to be the first to effectively bring mycelium products as well as fully recycled furniture onto the market on a big scale.

Live Workshops

We held our first CDA workshop, called ‘The Art Of Upcycling’, in Bali with Greater Goods and Nano Uhero. The workshop employed a fully handcrafted “radical weaving” approach, juxtaposing natural rattan with synthetic textile scavenged from used clothing into unique badminton structures.

Our second workshop ‘Radical Recycling’ was held in collaboration with Western Hydrodynamic Research at Stryk Studio in Paris. We taught participants how to radically recycle locally sourced 'waste' plastic into useful objects. Highlight of the workshop was customizing Space Available x Western Hydrodynamic Research products, showcasing the potential of recycling and inspiring a more conscious approach towards waste management.

Our third ‘Bali Upcycling Workshop’ with Alfaz Syam focused on E-Waste and how we might give new life to discarded electronic devices. In this workshop, people crafted unique sunglasses and gloves using broken keyboards and electronic waste and take these wearable pieces of art home after.

Our fourth ‘Radical Recycling’ workshop at DSM Ginza gave attendants the chance to turn recycled plastic into accessories. This workshop provided a platform for participants to explore new materials and embrace a systems-thinking approach to circular design.


The RE3 series

Before starting in-person events, Space Available was running the RE3 series online. These online workshops gave people interested in circular design the tools and inspiration to create recycled and upcycled objects in their own homes.

The first online workshop of the RE3 series with Ican Harem ‘How to make an upcycled t-shirt’ highlighted the concept of radical upcycling. Harem is a key player in the scene of upcycling and reworking of waste materials in Indonesia – old garments and objects rehashed into something new.

In the second RE3 workshop, DJ and record producer Peggy Gou taught ‘How to make a recycled plastic chair’. Recycling and redesigning plastic waste from Indonesia – the world’s second biggest plastic polluter – to build awareness around the plastic pollution crisis and inspire change through circular design and culture. Together, we created a record chair.

In How to weave with recycled plastic’, Bali-based artist Nano Uhero showed us how to radically create woven objects using recycled plastic rope and bamboo. This was to illustrate the making process of the Alex Olson X Space Available collection – a project designed to transform waste, revive traditional weaving practices and help regenerate Indonesian forests.

Our last RE3 workshop ‘How to make a mycelium object’ was led by Ronaldiaz Hartantyo from Mycolabs. He explained how he grows mycelium-based products in a way that treads lightly on the planet and makes use of agroforestry byproducts such as sawdust and woodchips, which would otherwise become waste.



  1. Inspire a new system change. We create designs, ideas and form collaborations based on environmental challenges and new world materials.
  2. Source materials locally. We work with partners such as Robries, Sungai Watch and Sober Denim to source local materials. Space Available is currently developing a plastic recycling lab with the help of the Robries team.
  3. Bring craft into the future. We do this by working with local artists, artisans and techniques wherever possible. This encourages the preservation of traditional art forms, innovated only by the use of new world materials which work within our circular system.  
  4. Create products on a made-to-order basis. To avoid generating excess.
  5. Package products using a zero-waste approach. All our packaging materials are either biodegradable, upcycled or can be reused. 
  6. Nothing becomes waste. If a Space Available product reaches the end of its life cycle, it can be repaired or recycled into another useful item in our Lab. 
  7. Make space for nature. We remove waste from the environment through our street cleanup initiative and by recycling it into our products. 


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