From shabby to chic: Upcycling as a way of making a design statement
Upcycling is all the rage right now. Desks made from leaf doors, chests of drawers made from washing drums, and wardrobes made from empty containers. When it comes to turning used materials into new treasures, there are no limits to the designers’ creativity. Upcycled furniture is basically the supreme discipline of Green Design, the sustainability trend. In recent years, production and processing methods have changed significantly – and it shows. The days of the boring “eco image” are over. Boasting a high level of workmanship, the decorative original pieces and revitalised antiques perfectly capture the contemporary Zeitgeist.
It’s all about ideas: giving old treasures a new sparkleAround seven million tonnes of furniture is thrown out every year in Germany alone. Almost 90% of it ends up in waste incineration plants. Designers from the Italian company Manoteca, for example, are showing how this old furniture can be turned into something completely new. Worn-out chests, doors or tables are just a few examples of what the designers use as a basis for their new gems. A two-part leaf door is thus transformed into an adjustable workstation that can be converted into a dining table. Old wardrobes are turned into rustic, mirrored dressing tables, while worn-out tricycles reveal their retro charm as mobile libraries.
Stylish furniture for your home
Giving old and excess material a second chanceWhether it’s used glass, cardboard, PVC, extra ice lolly sticks or drinking straws, there’s hardly any material that designers haven’t used as a raw material to create upcycled furniture and accessories. Take Lockengelöt’s two designers, for example – they know how to transform what seems like rubbish into gold. They handcraft original pieces of furniture from everyday objects and single parts of old household appliances. In this way, they create chests of drawers, coffee tables and lamps from top loading washing machines, cabinets from defective oil barrels from the Port of Hamburg, and wardrobes from large hardback books. So objects that would normally end up on the rubbish heap are given a new, decorative lease of life.
Good for the environment: upcycling as a secondary use trendRecycling used raw materials conserves resources and protects the environment. Giving materials a second chance is the motto of an ecological furniture Portal whose German name “Zweitsinn” (which translates as second meaning, or purpose) equally reflects this concept. All “Zweitsinn” products are also made from old furniture or individual parts. In addition to wood, worn-out textiles, steel and foam materials are also reused. The frame for a Pixelstar chair, for instance, is thus made from chipboard, pressed material and plywood.
No run-of-the-mill models: unique products with characterThe decorative furniture from the company uniic is just as unique as the products mentioned above. For its creations, the company uses wood from city trees which had to be cut down, which it then handcrafts into elegant designs. From seating, cabinets, sideboards and tables, to modern entertainment units with integrated technology, the possibilities are endless. The raw material itself shows signs of the past – be it traces of its former life as a tree or shrapnel from World War II, which give the piece of furniture its highly individual character.
The verdict:Upcycled pieces of furniture can be real treasures. They also benefit the environment in that they help extend resource usage and decrease waste. This ecological added-value means that the sustainable furniture trend provides a solution to all the aspects highlighted by the design circuit in recent years.
From shabby to chic – do you have prior experience with upcycled furniture, or have you recently revitalised an old piece of furniture yourself? We look forward to receiving your comments.