With the emergence of ‘Mashup‘ design and a search for environmentally friendly products, its likely that ‘Upcycling’ will become increasingly used in design.
Considered by some as creative recycling, ‘Upcycling’ is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials, or products of better quality, or with higher environmental value – where old products are given more value, not less”. Wikipedia
Famous ‘Upcycling’ brands include Freitag, that in 1993 began making bags and accessories from reclaimed truck covers (which are usually replaced every 5-8 years).
In 2006 SsD designed the ‘Big Dig House’ in Lexington, MA. The house was built not only close to where it’s materials originated, but the core and shell were built from recycled materials.
The concrete slabs and structural steel came from the Big Dig project in Boston, which to ease congestion spent 14Billion dollars on relocating the lanes of I-93 in Boston under ground. With tons of waste headed to the landfill contractor Paul Pedini had the idea to use some of the parts for his home in Lexington.
The ‘Big Dig House’ is made from 600,000lbs of salvaged high quality industrial grade materials, which were otherwise going to be thrown into a landfill and left to sit for years.
Reclaimed concrete road slabs were used to create the upper floors, which also enabled the house to support immense weight such as the roof garden it currently has.
This project showed how with strategic front-end planning, many needed community programs including schools, libraries, and housing can be constructed whenever any infrastructure is deconstructed. A model which saves valuable resources, embodied energy, and taxpayer dollars.
Examples of ‘Upcycling’ in footwear have until now been mostly conceptual.
With the production of over 100,000 skateboard decks per month, designer Kris Lovett has designed women’s sandals with soles made from old skateboard deck plywood.
PaperFlops from Indonesia makes sandals using old newspapers for the soles.
All Black designer by Colin Lin has created uppers made from woven newspaper strips.
Used rice sack shoe uppers by Super Earth Goods aka SUE.GD
Where ‘Upcycling’ has really taken root is in Furniture design, which is also known as ‘reclaimed furniture’.
From floor boards made from whiskey barrels to coffee tables made from floor boards,
and ‘flat table’ by Japanese firm schemata architecture office which has a thick fluro pink epoxy resin added to it’s surface.
From chairs made out of logs like ”Grood” by Matteo Zamboni, to ones made from traffic lights, like the ‘Walk Don’t Walk’ Chair by John Carter.
All From Boats is based in Indonesia and makes furniture from old Indonesian boat parts.
Ramon Coronado designed the Mercado Negro furniture line from shopping carts.
Boris Bally designs a line of furniture and much more from street signs.
Michael Konstantin Wolke designed a table with storage made from used bicycle inner tubes.
”Abitudini” coat hangers by Antonello Fusè.
For more on ‘Upcycled’ products visit www.sexyupcycling.wordpress.com