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gomi design studio talk Smiley Charity Film Awards trophies, sustainability and more

Words by Abi Scaife

At Smiley News, we love to champion and support organisations that are working towards a more sustainable, circular future - and not many fit the bill more than gomi.

The gomi design studio is based in the heart of the Brighton Lanes, creating beautiful, lasting products from waste plastic. Plastic might be in the designer doghouse at the moment - but for Tom Meades, co-founder of gomi, this controversial material is just another opportunity for sustainability.

“It's important to realize why people started using plastic in the first place - it's because it's a very adaptable, cheap material that uses a very low energy,” explains Tom. “We can melt it at really low temperatures, keep recycling it over and over. The amount of energy to rework plastic is actually much lower [than aluminium].”

“It’s not all bad - it’s how it’s used.”

Tom created gomi after studying 3D Design and Craft in Brighton, where he discovered not only how much usable plastic goes to waste, but also how much landfill waste could be turned into something new.

“I went on a bit of a punk journey,” laughs Tom. “Like ‘I'm gonna make everybody desire this material to prove that it has value’; and that's the journey that [gomi has] been on.”

The design team at gomi, still based in Brighton, takes this waste plastic and turns it into beautiful, useful products. 


Best known for its speakers and power banks, gomi also creates gorgeous trophies from waste plastic - and Smiley News is ecstatic to say that they are the designers of this year's Smiley Charity Film Awards trophies.

“On Brighton Beach, there's a lot of waste on the beach, especially in summer, and I was looking at how we could use some of these materials to make beautiful products,” explains Tom. “Not just park benches or bus stops, but turn it into something desirable that people would want to own and keep and treasure and not throw away and not let it end up in landfill.”

gomi’s unique and beautiful designs come in an incredible splash of hand-marbled multicolour - and the offcuts from their creations can be used over and over again. Not only is it beautiful and sustainable, but it means that each piece is completely and utterly unique.

“We've recycled some of our off-cuts over 10 times without any degradation,” says Tom. “If you want to maintain the value in the material, it comes from not mixing it with other materials.”

“Designers have a superpower; it's kind of scary [but] we can dictate how a product is made and if it ends up in a landfill or not.”

One of gomi’s goals is to make products that last longer - not just because it stops waste from clogging up landfills, but because it saves money in the long run. That doesn’t just come from making quality products out of existing materials, but from making them repairable.  

Gomi Web Frame19

“At the moment people don't have a lot of money in the bank. When you buy a product you want to be able to just keep it going,” says Tom. “If the product breaks, you can get it repaired, you can get it fixed and we wanted to have that ease of repair.” 

Additionally, all the batteries used in their products are checked, tested and repurposed - making them completely safe, for you and the planet.

“Hopefully the big brands will see what we're doing and they'll follow because we can't have a huge impact on our own. What we can do is inspire other people to kind of follow this path and see what we're doing and take it on.”

There is a huge amount of value in knowing what goes into a product you are buying. Not only do you know that it isn’t creating extra waste, but actively preventing it - and this incredible transparency on the part of gomi is something worth investing in.

“It is up to the consumer at the end of the day - people vote with money. If people want more sustainable products, if you support those by buying them,” says Tom. “It might be a bit more expensive upfront, which is hard right now, and that's something that we're really working on. But knowing that that product will last 10 times as long and will be repairable, it works out a lot cheaper over time.”

gomi specifically reuse hard to recycle plastics - things like plastic bags, bubble wrap and more - to minimise their impact on the environment. In many councils in the UK, these kinds of plastics aren’t recycled at all - so what better way to fight that than using them to create long-lasting, meaningful products?

“There's so much plastic waste out there. Why not use it?”

Charity check-in 

At Smiley Movement, we like to elevate the work of charities across the world. Here are three charities whose causes align with the themes in this article. 

Every Can Counts. This is a not-for-profit recycling programme, encouraging people to recycle more often, to protect our planet. Support them here.

Fashion Revolution. This is a charity campaigning passionately for a clean, safe, fair, transparent and accountable fashion industry. Learn more here.

Remake. This is a global non-profit advocacy organisation fighting for fair pay and climate justice in the clothing industry. Find out more here.

This article aligns with the UN SDGs Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and Climate Action.

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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