Over nine months we were able to set up and run a Circular Material Hub in one of the most prestigious design universities in the world, at Central Saint Martins. It was called the Swap Shop. Unfortunately, we had to close the Hub in June 2023 due to a lack of funding.

What was the Swap Shop?

The Swap Shop was an initiative conceived by the Climate Emergency Network and UAL students and technicians, originally set to facilitate material swapping between students and staff and then optimised as a permanent space powered by Renée Materials.

The Swap Shop was a space dedicated to unwanted or unused materials from within the building that were then creatively re-used and re-purposed by the students. The system helped UAL’s community save money whilst reinforcing an important message about the difference between “end-of-use" and “end-of-life".

How did it work?

Students came to the Swap Shop and either drop off, pick up or borrow displayed materials.
All the materials were either donated by the University’s workshops, facilities, staff and students or by external companies or organisations that are part of Renée’s network, such as G.F Smith, Wellcome Collection and the Royal Opera House.

The Hub was open 2-3 times a week. And we thoroughly monitored our impact by keeping tack of the materials that were dropped off and picked up at the Hub.

Students were also asked to follow up with the Swap Shop through pictures of the material’s transformations. Some of them can be found on our Instagram. This helped the Material Hub keep up with the item's life and students shift their perception around waste and free resources, whilst enabling more circular behaviours in the creative field. All the offcuts, or the finished product, if unneeded, could be brought back to the Swap Shop, ready to be creatively reused by someone else.

Circular Material Hubs for creative institutions

Workshops, classes, labs, loading bays collect an incredible amount of unused materials, leftovers and scrap resources. Because of storage space or time constraints these materials usually end up in the skip. Other than being harmful for our environment, this is a great waste of energy, resources and finances. That is why we want to help institutions set up their own in-house Circular Material Hubs, giving a space to waste

Circular Material Hubs become centralised spaces where we close the loop of materials' usage. All unused resources are collected and offered back to creatives to be reused for their projects.

We study closely the organizations’ formal and informal systems, behaviors and waste-streams and develop Circular Hubs that adapt to the users’ and institutions’ needs. At the same time we valorize precious materials and make do with existing resources, fostering circularity and creative reuse. Or, as we like to say, design new rather than buy new

Are you a company with unused or leftover materials?

Join us in our fight against wasted resources! Offer your offcuts, unneeded materials, damaged goods or leftovers to our creative network.

Does your institution want its own Circular Material Hub?

Reach out to us! We'll help you build the perfect Hub for your creative audience and help you cut off carbon and wasted resources.