Upcycling: converting a disused object or waste material into something of greater value without degrading the material with which it’s made.
The third and final book I wrote for an\b editions has been on sale for a little while now. The concept sprang from the observation that while upcycling has gained popularity as an at-home craft, it holds immense potential for reduced material use when applied to the design and manufacture of consumer objects.
Additionally, as demonstrated by some of the early 1990s furniture and lighting designed by Tejo Remy, ‘upcycling’ can thoroughly challenge preconceptions about the aesthetics of form. Remy’s early work (distributed by Droog) focused on radical reinvention and memory, but today it could also be viewed trough the lens of sustainability.
Upcycle! presenting products, accessories, furniture, and lighting by designers in twenty-five countries, whose work reuses materials in the following general groups: cardboard and paper; cement, ceramic, and clay; cork; glass; metal; plastic; rubber; textile; and wood.
I made some delightful discoveries while compiling the contents – the ability of designers to make beautiful jewellery out of discarded bicycle inner tubes (Nikolay Sardamov, Bulgaria) or old tins and coasters (Melissa Cameron, Australia); to make tables from slices of old furniture (Oormerk, The Netherlands); or to make creature-like lights with the bases of old office chairs (Giovanni Delvecchio and Andrea Magnani for Resign, Italy).
One of the other joys of the research was discovering how witty designers could be in their efforts. Here are some examples:
Animal Skin Rugs by Agustina Woodgate (USA), made with the fur of pre-loved stuffed animal toys.
Stitch by Studio Pepe Heykoop (The Netherlands) – discarded chairs nurtured back to life with new hand-stitched covers and stuffing.
Relumine by mischer’traxler (Austria) – altering the character of old found lamps with a new and energy-efficient light source.
Multi-vase Lighting by Atelier Remy & Veenhuizen (The Netherlands) – compositions of glass objects that seem to have been thrown in the air and frozen in time.
Thanks to all the contributing designers and photographers, and to Jacinta Sonja Neoh (co-publisher) and Lara SH Loi for their art direction, design and layout.