Behind the tech-xtures

The project “Behind the tech-xtures” by Mexican material designer Andrea De la Peña visualises the complexity of e-waste production and uncovers the stories behind it: E-waste is currently the fastest growing type of waste: worldwide we produce about 50 million tonnes of e-waste, of which just 17.4% is properly collected and recycled. The term “e-waste” is mostly used to refer to used electrical appliances, even though they only make up about 2 to 3% of all e-waste. The majority consists of waste generated during extraction, manufacturing, transport and production, which involves high levels of hazardous chemicals, greenhouse gas emissions and water loss.

In addition to the environmental damage, these industrial processes and the accumulation of e-waste also have social consequences as they affect the people in the neighbourhood, who are mainly low-income groups, and the habitat nearby.

Through material studies, installations and interviews with experts, “Behind the Tech-xtures” shows the different phases and interactions between international actors in the production and disposal of electronic devices.

Andrea De La Peña

Mexican material designer and researcher Andrea De la Peña aims to uncover the stories behind the massive production of E-waste and explore alternative approaches to its use as new material. “I want to explore the use of materiality as a communication tool through a critical approach to the production of electronic devices. This will allow me to try and design different ways of narratives to present research projects and start material explorations that show the value of this type of waste with a different perspective” explains Andrea De la Peña. During the scholarship, she wants to try different techniques and treatments to create textures, patterns and structure samples made out of e-waste in order to create compositions that could be transferred into material applications.

Andrea is a Mexican material designer and researcher. She graduated from the Industrial design department at Centro de Diseño, Cine y Televisión and obtained a technical degree in Graphic Design at Instituto Politécnico Nacional. She leads the material development project Sustrato, which explores the use of pineapple industry waste in the production of biomaterials and is one of the winners of the No Waste Challenge from What Design Can Do. Her work has been presented in different museums and exhibitions such as Franz Mayer Museum (2022), Dutch Design Week (2019) and Dubai Design Week (2019).