Four simplistic birds made from green recycled plastic and brass legs

Meet the Maker: MuffatPrague

Meet Rob and Hils Macdonald, the creative husband and wife team behind MuffatPrague, whose handmade, sustainable small batch pieces we stock here at NORSK.


We instantly fell for the adorable bird designs produced by designer maker team MuffatPrague, formerly based up the road from NORSK in Buckinghamshire. Working with locally sourced reclaimed wood, eco-friendly sustainably produced brass and now recycled waste plastic – sourced right here from NORSK, among other places – their ethos and aesthetic really resonated.

Here, we chat with Rob about their new recycled plastic birds, made from our used milk bottle lids, which are about to land back here at NORSK, representing a true circular economy. Isn’t it great to think that your NORSK coffee will have contributed directly to the making of one of these cute little characters? We like to think we’re helping them take flight!  


Rob and Hils, Founders of MuffatPrague

Talk me through the process of making these plastic birds…

We collect used plastic bottle tops from several places; a large proportion of which comes from NORSK and their Little Italy Espresso Bars at train stations. Then I wash them; either in mesh bags in the dishwasher, or by hand in the sink at Makerversity; a community workshop in London’s Somerset House where we have a studio. It’s a communal kitchen and there are lots of interesting people doing interesting things there, which I love.  

I then melt them down to produce tiles in a really low-fi, domestic way using really simple things. I melt them in a little oven which I got from Argos for around £50 and I cut them out using a hand saw. Recycling plastic is obviously addressing a contemporary problem and bringing a hands-on ‘old fashioned’ craft to it feels like a nice juxtaposition.


Milk bottle tops in the process of being melted down

How many bottle tops do you need to make one bird?

A milk bottle top is about 1g and to make a tile takes about 1500g, from which I will make six families of birds; six large, six medium and six petit. Cutting them out by hand leaves quite a lot of leftovers which then gets remelted, so it’s quite hard to answer that question! In a basic way, it’s roughly around 83, although that’s not entirely accurate because all of the waste goes back into the pot.


Why did you choose to use milk bottle tops?

They’re made from HDPE (High Density Polyethylene) plastic which melts at quite a low temperature, at about 150 degrees. This means I can use a standard domestic oven, it doesn’t give off any fumes and it’s a product that you can easily get. Although, alarmingly, lots of milk bottle tops that used to be red, green and blue are starting to become transparent, which is terrible for me! There’s still lots of HDPE which comes from other things though, like soft drinks bottles, so we’re not restricted to milk bottle tops. But it’s certainly what NORSK has most of and to have them stocked at NORSK is very exciting; it’s the true definition of a circular economy.


NORSK's Simon collecting our used milk bottle tops

Where does the name MuffatPrague comes from?

My sister and I had just come back home from getting our first pair of jeans at the age of about 6 or 7. Our uncle who was sat in a chair suddenly woke up from a stupor, saw our jeans and said, “Muffat Prague. Indian Army. Wore Blue Jeans. Disgusting Habit,” and nodded off back to sleep! My sister and I just looked at each other, baffled. I told this story to Hils and she thought it was very funny. Although we are a little tired of explaining it; we do a lot of design and craft markets and end up telling the story a lot! Or we’re asked, "Are you from Prague?"


Where are you based?

We were based in Buckinghamshire and still have one foot in Long Crendon, but we now live in Camden, London. Hils and I both work in music as well and Hils was commuting into London and our son Angus earned a place at a music school in East London. Then we got a place at Makerversity and it seemed like a good opportunity to move back. We moved to Buckinghamshire when Angus was four, so we were there for over a decade. I coached the Crendon Corinthians football team for several years! I used to work on my own in the courtyard of our place there and that was cool, but I’m now able to work in a community of people doing some really inspiring things.

MuffatPrague's recycled plastic bird in all its glory

What first prompted you to set up MuffatPrague?

We have tons of nieces and nephews and Hils is very into typography, so one Christmas we decided we’d make everyone’s initials out of wood in a font we thought suited their character. So I bought some plywood from the Oxford Wood Recycling place in Abingdon, made the letters and painted them with Farrow & Ball colours – and they loved them. We showed them to some friends who had a local shop and they said they could sell them.  

Then, one day an off-cut fell from one of the pieces I was making. I’m very into mid-century modern, Bauhaus shapes and Scandinavian design and I saw this shape and Hils and I both really got a feel for it. So I finessed it, gave it an eye and made a little leg for it, and I showed it to our friends who had this shop. And where we’d been selling a few wooden letters, we starting selling absolutely tons of these birds and it launched from there. So we’ve been doing it for about 5 or 6 years, alongside other things.

We like to do things in the right way. The support we’ve gained from a lot of people – like Cathrine and Simon at NORSK who have really backed us – is partly through our ethos of trying to make things really well and stylishly, with a good attitude, and trying to recycle and use reclaimed materials as much as we can. And that's really important to us.

Shop MuffatPrague's collections here, including their cute wooden Christmas robins and Norske Fugler print, which is exclusive to NORSK.