If you can’t stand the notion of throwing away an old door, window frame, fabric remnants, or even a sheet of metal but have no idea of what to do with them then head on over to Antonia Edwards’s blog Upcyclist to get a few ideas. Or better yet, grab her new book, Upcyclist: Reclaimed and Remade furniture, Lighting and Interiors (Prestel, April 2105) which features hundreds of creations from an international and eclectic collection of today’s most innovative designers (some who have been featured in HAND/EYE!)
Edwards holds a master’s degree in interior design. In 2011, she launched Upcyclist as a blog reporting the best of creative reuse and show the endless possibilities of transforming an item that might have been destined to the recycling bin or landfill.
In the book’s introduction Edwards writes that the primary aim of the book was “…to draw attention to an aspect of upcycling that is too often overshadowed by its links to thriftiness, and environmental concerns: the tenet that intelligent reuse is both an art form in its own right and a technique for creating objects of exceptional beauty.”
The artists, designers and makers featured in the book highlight the reuse created for a variety of environments ranging from interiors to furniture design to lighting. Forty-five designers and artists are profiled that come from different creative backgrounds.
Among those include artists Nick Olson and Lilah Horwitz who used reclaimed windows and wood for their Window House (renowned in the tiny house community). The idea started as a drawing on paper early on in their relationship. “We romanticized the idea of building something with a whole wall of windows that would allow you to stargaze or watch sunsets from the inside.”
Situated at the edge of a forest in southern West Virginia, the primary source of their materials—lumber, hardware and roofing—came from an old barn on the property where it was disassembled piece-by-piece. The windows were sourced from a number of places including yard sales, antique shops, salvage yards and wherever old windows might be found.
Textile lovers will be delighted with Bokja Design (to read a related article, visit the Cult of Bokja, HAND/EYE April 2010). Bokja, based in Beirut, is a design and craft studio that design furniture and installation pieces, using a combination of vintage and new materials. Co-founder Maria Hibri explains Bojka’s philosophy, “As designers, we are drawn to the charm of the way things used to be, when people cherished time, embraced luxury and had a personal investment in their possessions. These objects carried with them legacies that were passed on through generations and transcended time. We strive to recreate this emotional attachment by preserving the past. It’s about injecting new life into things that have been left behind.”
Before Jonas Mernier embarked on design career, he worked for 17 years in prosthetics and orthotics in Switzerland, North Korea and China. In 2009 he decided to focus on furniture design, and a year later, along with his partner, renovated an old Shanghai factory into a loft and design studio.
His projects focus on using reclaimed materials and old objects found in Shanghai—primarily furniture and reclaimed wood from the destroyed Old Town. A self-taught carpenter, Merian discovered that with this new skill it allowed him to take on projects that were more challenging and creative. He says about upcycling wood, “The wood often looks ugly at first but as soon as you remove the first few layers, it turns into a beautiful material. You sometimes can’t tell that it’s old wood.”
Is one man’s trash another man’s treasure? For all the designers in Upcyclist, the expression holds true, and readers will agree once they view the stunning designs.
Upcyclist: Reclaimed and Remade Furniture, Lighting, and Interiors is available on Amazon.